Last week Emil de Leon won $45,000 on Wheel of Fortune when he correctly guessed this puzzle with just an N and an E showing. Now people are saying the show is rigged because no one could possibly solve a puzzle like this with only two letters. Not so, and here's why. 

1. It's IIegal For Game Shows To Give the Contestant the Answers

In the 1950's it was discovered that several quiz shows were rigged by giving the contestants the answers ahead of time or making other players purposely give the wrong answers in an effort to make people watch to see how long a champion could last. The most famous of these scandals was with the show Twenty-One on which the movie Quiz Show was based.

In 1960, Congress responded by passing a law prohibiting the fixing of quiz shows. That law remains in effect today.

2. Contestants Have Help From The Used Letter Board

Ever since Wheel of Fortune debuted in 1975, there has been a board off camera that only the contestants can see that shows a list of all the letters in the alphabet.


You can see in this shot of the used puzzle board from this show that the R S T L N and E that are given to the contestant in the bonus round are all out of play along with the H M D and O that Emil called for that didn't show up. Emil is a good puzzle solver. I think this is how he worked it out:

He started plugging letters in to the puzzle in his head as soon as he came up empty with his choices. Pat also helped by stalling a bit before his actual 10 seconds started. He often does this when someone doesn't get any help with their letter selection.

He was able to quickly deduce that the first word was NEW. Emil then plugged the first letter, the B into the second word and looked for a vowel to go after it. A was the first vowel listed. In the bonus round, puzzles are shorter than in the main game and use a lot of the same letters. Using the B more than once makes sense. Put a B as the first letter of the second word and the U is a good choice. From there it kind of all falls into place.

3. Wheel of Fortune Has A Budget They Have To Stick To

All game shows have a set prize budget. How they try to stick to that budget is by not giving away money if they can help it. How they do that is by making the game more difficult. This puzzle surely looked like a budget saver to me. When you watch you'll see that it took the judges a little while to realize he got it right. Maybe because they thought it was impossible?

So let's lay off the conspiracy theories and chalk this one up to a damn good puzzle solver.

Bonus Wheel of Fortune Video:

Did you know the original Wheel of Fortune host was Chuck Woolery? It was a very different game then.

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