“Wheel of Fortune” has featured some pretty incredible solves over the years. But perhaps the most incredible solve of all on the show was the time a contestant guessed a seven-word puzzle with only one letter on the board in 2010.
Contestant Caitlin Burke had a good feeling about her guess after the letter “L” showed up on the board. So she asked to solve the puzzle right away. After an incredulous silence, host Pat Sajak agreed: “Okay…”
“I’ve got a good feeling about this,” Burke guessed.
“That’s right!” Sajak said.
Watch Burke’s solve here:
‘Wheel of Fortune’ Contestant Had a Specific Strategy
At the time, Burke was a fashion editor for Hearst Magazines International. And she told Esquire that she had been watching “Wheel of Fortune” every night with her dad since she was a child.
“There are a million things I’m not good at,” Burke said. “But ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ I can do.”
Over time, Burke developed a strategy for solving “Wheel of Fortune” puzzles. She broke them down into small pieces, treating each word as its own puzzle.
Burke had already figured out most of the puzzle when Rick next to her took his first spin. But no, it couldn’t be “I’ve got a funny feeling about this,” because that didn’t quite fit… She kept running through four-letter words in her mind, until… then she had it.
By the end of the game, Burke walked away with more than $53,000 in cash and prizes. And she had also achieved what was arguably the most impressive “Wheel of Fortune” solve of all time.
Those Other Times a Contestant Solved the Puzzle With One Letter
Another contestant repeated Burke’s feat in 2016. Contestant Robert Santoli basically gamed the system by preparing in advance. The players had been told that the episode would have a nautical theme. So he went to websites that tracked previous “Wheel of Fortune” puzzles and wrote down the ones that fit with a nautical theme, according to Time magazine.
“The show does sometimes repeat puzzles, especially themed ones,” Santoli later said. He won on “Port & Starboard,” which had been used at least two times before on the show.
But that wasn’t the last one-letter puzzle a contestant would miraculously solve on “Wheel of Fortune.” In March of last year, contestant Mark Franco guessed a Triple Toss Up puzzle with one letter on the board.
The puzzle looked like this: “_’_-_____G-_-____”
What seemed like one second later, he was ready to solve it.
“I’m having a ball,” Franco guessed.
He was right. Unfortunately for Franco, he did not make it to the bonus round. He did win a $7,000 trip to London and $2,000, per Yahoo! Entertainment.
But all told, Burke’s guess of a seven-word puzzle could still be considered the most impressive win of all. At least until a new “Wheel of Fortune” champ comes along.