‘Wheel of Fortune’: How Often Does a Tie Happen on the Show?

by Leanne Stahulak
(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

In most “Wheel of Fortune” games, a clear winner usually emerges by the end of the regular round. But in some cases, when contestants earn the same amount of money by the end of the game, a tie occurs.

Incredibly, after more than 45 years on the air, only three ties have occurred in the history of the game show. Per Distractify, the most recent one occurred in 2016. Contestants LaToya Williams and Daniele Gilseth ended the match with $24,000 each. Host Pat Sajak then came over and told the duo that they’d compete in a “toss-up playoff.”

“Wheel of Fortune” begins every match with a toss-up, and so Williams and Gilseth played the same game for a chance to advance to the Bonus Round. With buzzers in hand, the two watched the letterboard as the puzzle started filling in automatically. Whoever buzzed in first with the correct answer won $1,000 and a chance at the Bonus Round.

Right off the bat, Williams buzzed in with the correct answer, securing her spot as champion. Gilseth took the loss good-naturedly, and Williams moved on to compete in the Bonus Round. You can see the tie-breaker play out in the video below.

Per Distractify, a tie has only occurred two other times in “Wheel of Fortune” history — once in 2003 and once in 2006.

Once Upon a Time, ‘Wheel of Fortune; Host Pat Sajak Tried Turning the Letters

The “Wheel of Fortune” episode archives are long and extensive, containing episodes dating back to the early 1980s. But this week, the show did a “Wayback Wednesday” to showcase an episode from 1996, when Pat Sajak and Vanna White switched jobs.

Based on the clip, it sounds like Sajak had thoroughly lost his voice by the end of the game. He told the audience, “Oh, we’re gonna switch. I want to give my voice a rest. Vanna has agreed to host the Bonus Round.”

White told him that she “had the idea” of how to host, and the two set off for their new roles. As soon as Sajak strolled up to the letter board, he struck a dashing pose next to the puzzle, earning a laugh from the audience. “Very nice, Pat,” White joked.

As soon as he started turning some of the letters (physically turning them, as was common in 1996), Sajak turned to White and said, “I’m exhausted.”

He the hilariously powerwalked over to the other letters he had to turn. And when the contestant solved the puzzle, he promptly turned them. Then he threw out his arms to showcase the solved puzzle.

The official “Wheel of Fortune” Instagram account captioned the post, “If you’ve ever thought, ‘What if Pat turned the letters instead of Vanna?’ Here you go.”