‘Wheel of Fortune’: Watch Contestant Lose on Brutal Technicality after Mispronouncing Simple Word in 2012

by John Jamison

Pat Sajak does not mess around on “Wheel of Fortune.” He can be your best friend, but the longtime host can become your worst nightmare in a matter of seconds. Few know this better than Renee Durette, who was a contestant on the show back in 2012.

The Florida woman, who was a Navy Reserve intelligence specialist at the time, mispronounced a word that cost her nearly $4,000. The bad part? She clearly knew exactly what the phrase was and even guessed the same letter that she failed to pronounce.

The category was “Living Things,” and as this particular episode aired in December, it had a Christmas theme. Renee successfully guessed a few letters of the phrase “seven swans a-swimming” before asking Pat Sajak if she could solve the puzzle. The phrase was obvious to everyone at the taping, but when it comes to “Wheel of Fortune,” none of that matters.

Renee gave her answer by saying “seven swans a-swimmin’.” Unfortunately, she left off the “g” when she pronounced the phrase. And Pat Sajak very nearly accepted the phrase before the buzzer sounded, indicating an incorrect answer.

“Yeah that’s- not, yeah… can’t accept that. Amy, it’s your turn,” Sajak said, leaving contestants and the audience confused. Of course, Amy went on to say the phrase correctly after the break and win the puzzle. But Sajak felt the need to address what happened.

“Do you know what happened there?” He asked the contestants. “Well, Renee knew what happened as well. And it was easy to do because you kind of did it in the vernacular and left off the ‘g’ in ‘seven swans a-swimming’ and you were pretty clear about that, realized you did that.”

The ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Contestant Agreed with the Ruling

Renee is a stronger person than most. With big money on the line, she owned up to her mistake. Instead of complaining about how she lost the puzzle on a technicality, Renee accepted the ruling gracefully.

In an interview she gave following her “Wheel of Fortune” appearance, she explained why it was the wrong answer.

“I left the ‘g’ off in speaking in a vernacular, and so they have to protect against regional dialects, and so I should’ve been more straight-lined in my annunciation of the phrase.”

While Renee was willing to accept the result, others weren’t. When it happened back in 2012, fans pointed to similar instances where contestants had slightly mispronounced things but had their answers accepted. People were rightfully frustrated with the inconsistency of the rulings. But Sajak and the crew are only human, after all. So if you ever find yourself on “Wheel of Fortune,” be incredibly deliberate with your pronunciations. You may walk home with an extra $4,000 in your pocket.