‘Wheel of Fortune’: Has the Game Show Ever Misspelled a Word?

by John Jamison

The folks at “Wheel of Fortune” have a reputation for being sticklers for the rules. Added an “and” when you were solving the crossword? Sorry, you lose. Oh, your accent made “swimming” sound like “swimmin’?” Too bad. You lose. And to add insult to injury, losses on technicalities get corrected immediately by the contestant next to you who learned from your mistake.

But guess what? “Wheel of Fortune,” like anything else in this world, is far from perfect. The show has been known to have a few mess-ups of its own. And would you believe it, many of them come in the form of misspellings on the puzzle board.

That’s right. A game of hangman, where the entire purpose is to spell out words and phrases, has failed to provide the proper spellings at least a dozen times. Granted, the majority of these mistakes have been giving spaces for two words where there’s supposed to be one, and vice versa.

But nonetheless, if “Wheel of Fortune” is going to hold its contestants to insanely high pronunciation (and other) standards, then we should hold them accountable.

Specific Examples of ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Errors on the Puzzleboard

Lucky for us, and any other concerned ‘Wheel of Fortune’ fan out there, the game show’s wiki on Fandom.com has compiled all of these errors. Their list includes misspellings and numerous instances of incorrect punctuation.

For example, “ON-LINE SHOPPING” was the solution to a puzzle in 2002. Clearly, “online” shouldn’t be hyphenated. But hey, it was 2002. The internet was still relatively young. So, it’s an understandable mistake.

Most of the mistakes can’t be excused, however. What about “SALTED PUMPKINSEEDS” in 2014? We get that the error is only one of spacing. But in a game like “Wheel of Fortune,” where a separate word can change a contestant’s thinking entirely, the show needs to get that right. “Pumpkin seeds” should be two words, in case that was unclear.

And these mistakes aren’t just things of the past. As recently as 2021, “Wheel of Fortune” featured legitimate misspellings. “DYING MY HAIR” is a perfect example. In January, the show used this puzzle, mixing up a word for death with one that describes adding color to something.

It’s an admittedly tricky little difference. But if you’re a successful game show based on spelling, you have and need to employ the resources to figure that out.

Maybe “Wheel of Fortune” could take a page out of the “Jeopardy!” playbook. Now there’s a show that doesn’t mess around when it comes to research and double-checking.