Have you ever noticed that when Pat Sajak does the Final Spin on “Wheel of Fortune,” the wheel always stops on something good? You’d almost think that Sajak has some kind of magic in his hand. Maybe he spends long hours spinning the wheel, learning just how much force to put behind it to avoid hitting “Bankrupt,” a prize, or “Lose a turn.” That’s not the case, though.
In the final round of “Wheel of Fortune,” Pat Sajak takes over spinning duties. This leaves contestants to focus on trying to solve the puzzle. At the same time, it drastically speeds up gameplay. Their correct guesses are worth whatever is on the board plus $1000. So, it’s important that the wheel not hit one of the losing wedges. That does happen from time to time, though. When it does, Pat spins again until it hits a wedge that shows a dollar amount. Viewers at home don’t see that. When the wheel hits a losing wedge, the show employs the magic of television and edits out the losing result. In the end, all we see are positive spins.
This wasn’t always the case, though. They started this practice when the new board debuted in 1997, according to IMDb. Sometimes, “Wheel of Fortune” viewers can spot the edit. For instance, when the wheel is shown from a distance and is clearly going to land on a losing wedge, but it hits a dollar amount in the close-up shot. Between shots, they reposition the wheel so that it will land on or around the $5000 wedge.
Other Changes to “Wheel of Fortune” Over the Years
“Wheel of Fortune” has been on the air for over forty-five years. In that time, they have made several changes to the game. The editing tricks for the Final Spin are just the tip of the iceberg.
For instance, “Wheel of Fortune” used to have a returning champions rule, like “Jeopardy!” This concept changed a few times before it was eliminated. In the beginning, contestants only played for one show, no matter how much they won. Then, they instated the returning champions rule in 1989. This allowed winners to play for up to three days if they kept winning. In 1996, they traded the returning champions rule for “Friday Finals.” This allowed contestants to play one game Monday-Thursday. Then, the biggest winners of the week appeared on the Friday show to compete for a jackpot. Then, two years later, they scrapped the idea completely. In 1998, they went back to the original one-and-done format.
“Wheel of Fortune” changed in subtler ways over the years as well. The hit show has had several different theme songs. Since 2000, the theme song has changed four times. It got a brand new theme in 2000, that was remixed in 2002 and 2006. Then, the show got a whole new theme in 2017.
For all its changes, one thing about “Wheel of Fortune” has remained the same for all these years. It continues to be one of the most entertaining game shows to ever hit the airwaves.