“Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak’s trademark humor may have just landed him in hot water. The game show host is receiving backlash after reportedly making fun of a contestant’s speech impediment.
During Monday’s (Feb. 22) episode, the host made a joke at one of the contestant’s expense. One of the contestants, Chris Brimble, has a lisp. A lisp is a speech impediment, which makes it difficult to pronounce the s-sound. Instead, people affected usually pronounce words with a th-sound. The impediment is extremely common and reportedly affects 23 percent of the population at some point during their lives.
During the opening segment of the show, Sajak appeared to mock Brimble, according to Pop Culture. The contestant introduced himself as someone who sells technology for the older generation. In response, Sajak asked if it was a myth or true that older generations struggle to adapt to new technology.
Brimble said, “You’d be surprised how open they are.”
In response, Sajak said, “Ah, I thee” instead of “I see.”
Pat Sajak Receives Backlash for the Moment
During the episode, Brimble laughed in response to Sajak and didn’t appear offended. The episode quickly turned to focus on the game itself. But users online were quick to point out the moment and criticized Sajak for mocking the contestant. In fact, the hashtag Pat Sajak Sucks started cropping up on Twitter after the exchange.
One user wrote, “How snide are you if you make fun of someone with a lisp. I mean really?”
Another hoped that Sajak would learn from the moment. They didn’t believe a person’s afflictions should be the subject of comedy. This user wrote, “By your mistake and stop making fun of those with a lisp. by your mistake and stop making fun of those with a lisp.”
Still, others commented urging for Sajak to quit. One wrote, “Thanks for making fun of people with a lisp on tonight’s show you arrogant overpaid jerk – Pat Sajak. Quit now. Maybe if you grew up with a speech impediment you’d understand.”
Ye another user commented that Sajak had “been on the air for far too long. It’s time for you to retire. Your sarcasm is offensive and only funny to idiots such as yourself.”
So far, neither Sajak nor Brimble have addressed the controversy. The contestant ultimately won $12,250 for the evening.