‘Wheel of Fortune’: The Game Show’s Iconic Wheel Is Insanely Heavy

by John Jamison
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For a show named “Wheel of Fortune,” not very much attention is given to the wheel itself. But without the wheel, there can be no fortune. And what a wheel it is.

Some fans may be surprised to learn that there is only one wheel used by “Wheel of Fortune.” This means that all 2,400 pounds of the game show device get hauled around to every single taping location for the show.

According to ABC, the wheel has more than 200 computerized lights built-in, which combine to make up to 2 million colors. 73 steel pins push past three pieces of hard rubber to create the iconic clicking sound.

‘Wheel of Fortune’ Contestants Get to Play a Practice Round

Without any reference, the weight of the wheel could throw people off. Fortunately for the contestants on the show, they get a chance to spin it once during a practice run-through. Further, there is an adjustable platform so that no matter how short someone might be, they can still spin the heavy wheel effectively.

“[The wheel] is heavier than you think. When the show first started, we would put shorter players on boxes, but problem is I would walk next to a great-grandmother on the show and I would walk next to her and people thought I was a jockey so now we are on risers and when they go up, I go up and we stay about the same size. But it got ingrained in people that I was about 4 feet 3,” Pat Sajak told WLKY in 2015

Before the game itself starts, a stand-in host runs the contestants through the game. They get to practice all the aspects of “Wheel of Fortune,” buying vowels, spinning the bonus wheel, etc.

The practice opportunity is intended to give the players a feel for what’s going to happen. Presumably, so they don’t completely freeze up after taping has started.

The Iconic Game Show Only Tapes for Four Days Every Month

Pat Sajak and Vanna White are living the dream. “Wheel of Fortune” tapes multiple episodes in a single day, and they only spend four days taping each month.

Of course, the production of the show includes things like editing, developing puzzles, etc. So for the crew, the working hours are probably different. But for the hosts, the schedule is amazing.

“It’s the closest thing you can do in pretending you have a full-time job. In dog years I’ve only done this show about nine years,” Pat Sajak said in 2015.

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