An earlier post from our Denise Moss suggested I might like to comment on the recent one-letter solve of the puzzle, “I’ve Got a Good Feeling About This” on Wheel of Fortune last week. Okay, here goes. A few points in no particular order:
Obviously, I was surprised by the solve. I always am when it seems too early for anyone to be positive about the puzzle. And, of course, since it is show biz, I do all I can to appear even more surprised. Someone once solved what seemed to be an insoluble bonus puzzle, and I made him lean against a railing while I pretended to frisk him, looking for the answer.
It’s impossible to say whether it was the best solve ever, because the object of our game is not necessarily to solve the quickest, but to solve and win money. Over the years, it’s been obvious to me on several occasions that someone figured it out immediately, but kept spinning to win more money. (This particular puzzle was what we call a “Prize Puzzle” meaning there was a trip at stake, and the player didn’t want to spin and risk losing the trip.)
Over the course of more than 6,000 shows, I’ve seen a lot of strange things happen. A woman solved the nursery rhyme bonus puzzle “Wee Willie Winkie” after she called a “W”. No one had ever called a "W" before or since, but she called it because two of her kids had names that started with that letter. The point is that sometimes, stuff happens. People have often seemingly pulled answers out of thin air. The mind is an amazing creation, and occasionally it can do surprising things.
Of course, there are always those who think the fix is in. First, there is literally no way, given the protections we have in place, that a contestant could learn an answer in advance. Even if there were, however, I’d like to think someone would be smart enough to make it look a little more “real” by spinning a few times. As for me or someone else providing the answer, I remind everyone that rigging a TV game show is a federal crime. She was a very nice young woman, but I don’t think anyone wants to risk prison so that someone can win a trip worth a few thousand dollars.
Finally, a few years ago, this would have been no big deal, other than providing a fun moment on the show. In these days of YouTube and Twitter and Facebook, however, these events take on a life of their own. So congratulations to the young lady again. It was a great solve, and I hope she enjoys her trip. You realize, of course, if she had guessed, “I’ve Got a Good Feeling About That,” none of this would have happened.