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Pat Sajak defends ‘Wheel of Fortune’ contestants after viral mistake: ‘Have a little heart’

The game show host is asking viewers to go easy on contestants who flubbed a well-known phrase on Tuesday's episode.
"Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak is asking online critics to be kinder to contestants who make mistakes on the show.
"Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak is asking online critics to be kinder to contestants who make mistakes on the show.Getty Images

"Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak is asking viewers to be a little kinder to contestants who flubbed a well-known phrase on Tuesday’s episode.

After the episode's contestants struggled to correctly guess the last word of the popular phrase “another feather in your cap,” some viewers took to Twitter to poke fun at the moment.

The account TodayInSports called the botched round the “worst 2 minutes in the history of Wheel of Fortune.”

After seeing all the online grousing for himself, Sajak, 75, stepped in Wednesday morning to defend the contestants from all the armchair players in a lengthy Twitter thread.

"It always pains me when nice people come on our show to play a game and win some money and maybe fulfill a lifelong dream, and are then subject to online ridicule when they make a mistake or something goes awry," Sajak tweeted.

Solving the game show's puzzles is a lot easier for viewers at home who are under no pressure, suggested Sajak.

"Last night’s 'Feather in your cap' puzzle was a case in point," he wrote. "Sitting at home, it seems incredible that they couldn’t solve it, but I knew in real time what was happening."

"The first attempted solve was “Feather in your hat” which, by the way, is how a lot of people say it. So all three players thought it was a good solve, and were stunned when I said it was wrong," he continued.

"Now imagine you’re on national TV, and you’re suddenly thrown a curve and you begin getting worried about looking stupid, and if the feather isn’t in your hat, where the heck can it be? You start flailing away looking for alternatives rather than synonyms for 'hat,'" Sajak went on.

"And, of course, when it’s solved, you want to crawl in a hole," he added.

Sajak also called out viewers who praise him for not laughing at contestants' foibles, explaining that ridiculing the show's players is the furthest thing from his mind.

"I’ve been praised online for 'keeping it together' and not making fun of the players. Truth is, all I want to do is help to get them through it and convince them that those things happen even to very bright people," he wrote.

"But mocking them online and calling them names? These are good people in a bad situation under a kind of stress that you can’t begin to appreciate from the comfort of your couch," he wrote.

Sajak acknowledged that he sometimes gently ribs contestants, but said he truly feels for them when things go badly.

"Good-natured laughter is one thing. Heck, they laughed at themselves. But, hey, cut them some slack. Unless you’re there, you have no idea how different it is in the studio," he continued.

"I have fun with players and I tease them occasionally, but when things go wrong, I feel for them, and I try to salve the wounds on camera and off," he wrote.

"So, yeah, it was an oddly entertaining puzzle and it’s okay to laugh at the situation. But have a little heart."

"After all," he added diplomatically, "you may be there one day. And no one wants to be trending on Twitter."