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Yes, it's that heavy. The wheel is equipped with more than computerized lights, which can turn up to 2 million different colors. It gets its token sound from 73 stainless steel pins that fly past three hard rubber "flippers.
The sparkles, the pink, the sheer, oh my! Her favorites are the comfortable ones. And if one's too tight? I just hold my breath for 30 minutes," she said.
Since season 35, the winning contestant chooses one of three puzzle categories before the round begins prior to season 35, the category and puzzle were predetermined.
After doing so, the contestant spins a smaller wheel with 24 envelopes to determine the prize. The contestant provides three more consonants and one more vowel.
A contestant holding the Wild Card may then choose a fourth consonant. After any instances of those letters are revealed, the contestant has 10 seconds to solve the puzzle.
The contestant can offer multiple guesses, as long as the contestant begins the correct answer before time expires.
Whether or not the contestant solves the puzzle, the host opens the envelope at the end of the round to reveal the prize at stake.
Originally, after winning a round, contestants spent their winnings on prizes that were presented onstage. At any time during a shopping round, most often if the contestant did not have enough left to buy another prize,  a contestant could choose to put his or her winnings either on a gift certificate or "on account" for use in a later shopping round.
However, a contestant lost any money on account by landing on Bankrupt or failing to claim it by not winning subsequent rounds.
Before the introduction of toss-up puzzles at the start of the 18th syndicated season in ,  the contestant at the red arrow always started round 1, with the next contestant clockwise starting each subsequent round.
If a tie for first place occurred on the daytime version, all three players returned to continue the game on the next episode, and it counted as a single appearance.
Free Spin was retired, and Free Play introduced, at the start of the 27th syndicated season in To claim the jackpot, a contestant had to land on the wedge, call a correct letter, and solve the puzzle all in the same turn.
The network version allowed champions to appear for up to five days originally, which was later reduced to three. The syndicated version, which originally retired contestants after one episode, adopted the three-day champion rule at the start of the seventh season in The rules allowing returning champions were eliminated permanently beginning with the syndicated episode aired September 21, , and contestants appear only on a single episode, reverting to the pre rules.
Before December , the show did not feature a permanent bonus round. In , some episodes featured a round known as the "Star Bonus", where a star-shaped token was placed on the wheel.
Contestants who picked up the token played an additional round at the end of the game to win one of four prizes, whose value determined the difficulty of the puzzle.
The contestant provided four consonants and a vowel, and was given 15 seconds to attempt solving. The contestant asked for five consonants and a vowel, and then had fifteen seconds to attempt solving the puzzle.
Also, bonus prizes were selected by the contestant at the start of the round. Any prize that was won was taken out of rotation for the rest of the week.
Merv Griffin conceived Wheel of Fortune using inspiration from Hangman after recalling long car trips as a child, on which he and his sister played Hangman.
After he discussed the idea with Merv Griffin Enterprises' staff, they thought that the idea would work as a game show if it had a "hook".
He decided to add a roulette-style wheel because he was always "drawn to" such wheels when he saw them in casinos. When Griffin pitched the idea for the show to Lin Bolen , then the head of NBC's daytime programming division, she approved, but wanted the show to have more glamour to attract the female audience.
She suggested that Griffin incorporate a shopping element into the gameplay, and so, in , he created a pilot episode titled Shopper's Bazaar , with Chuck Woolery as host and Mike Lawrence as announcer.
The pilot started with the three contestants being introduced individually, with Lawrence describing the prizes that they chose to play for.
The main game was played to four rounds, with the values on the wheel wedges increasing after the second round.
Unlike the show it evolved into, Shopper's Bazaar had a vertically mounted wheel,  which was spun automatically rather than by the contestants.
This wheel lacked the Bankrupt wedge and featured a wedge where a contestant could call a vowel for free, as well as a "Your Own Clue" wedge that allowed contestants to pick up a rotary telephone and hear a private clue about the puzzle.
At the end of the game, the highest-scoring contestant played a bonus round called the "Shopper's Special" where all the vowels in the puzzle were already there, and the contestant had 30 seconds to call out consonants in the puzzle.
Edd Byrnes , an actor from 77 Sunset Strip , served as host for the second and third pilots, both titled Wheel of Fortune.
Showcase prizes on these pilots were located behind the puzzle board, and during shopping segments a list of prizes and their price values scrolled on the right of the screen.
By the time production began in December , Woolery was selected to host, the choice being made by Griffin after he reportedly heard Byrnes reciting "A-E-I-O-U" to himself in an effort to remember the vowels.
The original host of Wheel of Fortune was Chuck Woolery , who hosted the series from its premiere   until December 25, , save for one week in August when Alex Trebek hosted in his place.
Woolery's departure came over a salary dispute with show creator Merv Griffin, and his contract was not renewed. Griffin countered by telling Silverman he would stop production if Sajak was not allowed to become host, and Silverman acquiesced.
Sajak hosted the daytime series until January 9, , when he left to host a late-night talk show for CBS. Rolf Benirschke , a former placekicker in the National Football League , was chosen as his replacement and hosted for a little more than five months.
Benirschke's term as host came to an end due to NBC's cancellation of the daytime Wheel after fourteen years, with its final episode airing on June 30, The daytime program continued for a year and a half on CBS, then returned to NBC on January 14, and continued until September 20, when it was cancelled for a second and final time.
Susan Stafford was the original hostess, serving in that role from the premiere until October Stafford was absent for two extended periods, once in after fracturing two vertebrae in her back and once in after an automobile accident.
After Stafford left to become a humanitarian worker,  over two hundred applicants signed up for a nationwide search to be her replacement.
Sajak and White have starred on the syndicated version continuously as host and hostess, respectively, since it began, except for very limited occasions.
During two weeks in January , Tricia Gist, the girlfriend and future wife of Griffin's son Tony, filled in for White when she and her new husband, restaurateur George San Pietro, were honeymooning.
On April 1, , Sajak and Alex Trebek traded jobs for the day. Sajak hosted that day's edition of Jeopardy! In November , three weeks of episodes were taped with White hosting in Sajak's place while he recovered from intestinal surgery.
Charlie O'Donnell was the program's first and longest tenured announcer. The network decided against the cancellation but O'Donnell decided to honor his commitment and left the series.
Kelly was Clark's replacement, starting on the daytime series in August and on the syndicated series when its new season launched a month later.
For the show's twenty-ninth season, which began in , Thornton was chosen to be the show's fourth announcer. Wheel of Fortune typically employs a total of in-house production personnel, with 60 to local staff joining them for those episodes that are taped on location.
Since , the title of executive producer has been held by Harry Friedman , who had shared his title with Griffin for his first year,  and had earlier served as a producer starting in Afterwards, his co-producer, Nancy Jones, was promoted to sole producer, and served as such until , when Friedman succeeded her.
They were later promoted to supervising producers, with Amanda Stern occupying Griffith's and Schwartz's former position. Various changes have been made to the basic set since the syndicated version's premiere in In , a large video display was added center stage, which was then upgraded in as the show began the transition into high-definition broadcasting.
In the mids, the show began a long-standing tradition of nearly every week coming with its own unique theme. As a result, in addition to its generic design, the set also uses many alternate designs, which are unique to specific weekly sets of themed programs.
The most recent set design was conceived by production designer Renee Hoss-Johnson, with later modifications by Jody Vaclav.
Shopper's Bazaar used a vertically mounted wheel which was often difficult to see on-screen. The current incarnation, in use since , is framed on a steel tube surrounded by Plexiglas panels and contains more than lighting instruments.
It is held by a stainless steel shaft with roller bearings. The show's original puzzle board had three rows of 13 manually operated trilons , for a total of 39 spaces.
On December 21, , a larger board with 48 trilons in four rows 11, 13, 13 and 11 trilons was adopted. This board was surrounded by a double-arched border of lights which flashed at the beginning and end of the round.
Each trilon had three sides: a green side to represent spaces not used by the puzzle, a blank side to indicate a letter that had not been revealed, and a side with a letter on it.
On February 24, , the show introduced a computerized puzzle board composed of 52 touch-activated monitors in four rows 12 on the top and bottom rows, 14 in the middle two.
Although not typically seen by viewers, the set also includes a used letter board that shows contestants which letters are remaining in play, a scoreboard that is visible from the contestants' perspective, and a countdown clock.
In August , taping resumed with new safety measures. Taping is currently ongoing. New episodes tape without studio audiences; only essential staff and crew are allowed on stage.
Contestants spin the wheel with a white, tube-like device that fits over the wheel's pegs so they do not have to touch the wheel directly; Sajak also spins the wheel with his own device during the final spin.
During the bonus round, Sajak picks up the prize envelope instead of the contestant and remains at the bonus wheel for the duration of the round.
These new episodes began airing September 14, when the show's 38th nighttime season premiered. Because these episodes do not employ cautionary measures and were only aired in the middle of the crisis, they were broadcast with a message at the beginning stating that they had been taped before the pandemic started as not to mislead audiences into thinking incorrectly that the producers were ignoring public health advice.
Alan Thicke composed the show's original theme, which was titled "Big Wheels". In , it was replaced by Griffin's own composition, "Changing Keys",  to allow him to derive royalties from that composition's use on both the network and syndicated versions.
Steve Kaplan became music director starting with the premiere of the 15th syndicated season in , and continued to serve as such until he was killed when the Cessna C Golden Eagle he was piloting crashed into a home in Claremont, California , in December In addition to "Changing Keys", Griffin also composed various incidental music cues for the syndicated version which were used for announcements of prizes in the show's early years.
Among them were "Frisco Disco" earlier the closing theme for a revival of Jeopardy! Anyone at least 18 years old has the potential to become a contestant through Wheel of Fortune ' s audition process.
Also ineligible to apply as contestants are individuals who have appeared on a different game show within the previous year, three other game shows within the past ten years, or on any version of Wheel of Fortune itself.
Throughout the year, the show uses a custom-designed Winnebago recreational vehicle called the "Wheelmobile" to travel across the United States, holding open auditions at various public venues.
Participants are provided with entry forms which are then drawn randomly. Individuals whose names are drawn appear on stage, five at a time, and are interviewed by traveling host Marty Lublin.
The group of five then plays a mock version of the speed-up round, and five more names are selected after a puzzle is solved. Everyone who is called onstage receives a themed prize, usually determined by the spin of a miniature wheel.
Auditions typically last two days, with three one-hour segments per day. Alternatively, a participant may submit an audition form with a self-shot video through the show's website to enter an audition.
Contestants not appearing on stage at Wheelmobile events have their applications retained and get drawn at random to fill second-level audition vacancies.
At the second audition, potential contestants play more mock games featuring a miniature wheel and puzzle board, followed by a puzzle test with some letters revealed.
The contestants have five minutes to solve as many puzzles as they can by writing in the correct letters. The people who pass continue the audition, playing more mock games which are followed by interviews.
Lin Bolen , then the head of daytime programming, purchased the show from Griffin to compensate him for canceling the original Jeopardy!
The original Wheel aired on NBC, in varying time slots between am and noon, until June 30, Throughout that version's run, episodes were generally 30 minutes in length, except for six weeks of shows aired between December and January which were 60 minutes in length.
NBC announced the cancellation of the show in August , but it stayed on the air following a decision to cut the duration of The David Letterman Show from 90 to 60 minutes.
The daily syndicated version of Wheel premiered on September 19, From its debut, the syndicated version offered a larger prize budget than its network counterpart.
Only nine stations carried the show from its beginning,  but by midseason it was airing on all 50 of the stations that were initially willing to carry it, and by the beginning of the show was available to 99 percent of television households.
Soon, Wheel succeeded Family Feud as the highest-rated syndicated show,  and at the beginning of the —85 season, Griffin followed up on the show's success by launching a syndicated revival of Jeopardy!
At this point, Wheel had the highest ratings of any syndicated television series in history,  and at the peak of the show's popularity, over 40 million people were watching five nights per week.
The series, along with companion series Jeopardy! The popularity of Wheel of Fortune has led it to become a worldwide franchise , with over forty known adaptations in international markets outside the United States.
It was hosted by David Sidoni, with Tanika Ray providing voice and motion capture for a virtual reality hostess named "Cyber Lucy".
For example, the show's child contestants competed for points and prizes instead of cash, with the eventual winner playing for a grand prize in the bonus round.
In November , ABC ordered a prime time spin-off show, Celebrity Wheel of Fortune , with Richards as executive producer and Sajak and White as hosts,  and which is set to premiere on January 7, Wheel of Fortune has long been one of the highest-rated programs on U.
It was the highest-rated show in all of syndication before it was dethroned by Two and a Half Men in the 28th season — In a issue, TV Guide ranked Wheel number 25 among the 50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time,  and in , the magazine ranked it number 2 in its list of the 60 greatest game shows ever, second only to Jeopardy!
One of the catchphrases uttered by contestants, "I'd like to buy a vowel" , was considered for Favorite Game Show Catch Phrase, but lost to "Come on down!
The sound effect heard at the start of a new regular gameplay round won the award for Favorite Game Show Sound Effect. The sound heard when the wheel lands on Bankrupt was also nominated.
Despite having been retired from the show for nearly a decade by that point, "Changing Keys" was nominated for Best Game Show Theme Song.
However, it lost to its fellow Griffin composition, "Think! A hall of fame honoring Wheel of Fortune is part of the Sony Pictures Studios tour, and was introduced on the episode aired May 10, Numerous board games based on Wheel of Fortune have been released by different toy companies.
The games are all similar, incorporating a wheel, puzzle display board, play money and various accessories like Free Spin tokens.
Milton Bradley released the first board game in Two editions were released, with the only differences being the box art and the included books of puzzles.
This is the moment that started it all. Tune in today to watch the very first episode of the AlexTrebek era.
He has said he plans to continue hosting the show until his skills diminish to a point where he can no longer comfortably host or he feels as though his presence is hindering the show.
Trebek announced that he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer on March 6,