A Look Back at the History of Wheel of Fortune


“Wheel! Of Fortune!” Everyone is familiar with the famous catchphrase used to introduce each new episode of the long-running game show.  It has been on the air for nearly 40 years and is still going strong. But behind those constantly spinning letters are many mysteries. Learn how a little daytime game show became a national craze and evolved into the primetime staple it is today.

Wheel of Fortune is a popular slot gacor game show in the United States that is based on the popular board game Hangman. In this competition, three participants engage in a challenge to complete the missing letters of short words or phrases to win cash prizes. A big wheel that each contestant spins in turn shows how much money or prizes they will win if they correctly guess a letter in the word game.

The Beginning of a Television’s Legend

Wheel of Fortune Logo

Wheel of Fortune premiered on NBC on January 6, 1975, and it has since become one of the most popular and longest syndicated game programs in American television history. The program, developed by the late great TV producer Merv Griffin, was an instant hit because of its fresh concept and exciting gameplay.

Wheel of Fortune had a significantly different format in its early years than it does now. The original version consisted of a single round in which competitors spin the wheel and guessed letters to solve a puzzle. Nevertheless, as the television program gained popularity and attracted a larger audience, many modifications to the format were implemented with the aim of improving the gameplay and enhancing the overall experience for viewers.

To add a new dimension of strategy and excitement, the program introduced the notion of purchasing vowels in 1981, allowing contestants to spend their winnings on vowels that would help them solve the problem more quickly.

The Puzzle Board and the Wheel

The spinning wheel is, without a doubt, one of the most instantly identifiable aspects of the game show Wheel of Fortune. The wheel has seen several variations throughout the years, including changes to its shape, size, and the incorporation of technological elements. Today, the wheel serves as a vivid and aesthetically engaging focus of the show, and with each turn, it adds an element of expectation and excitement.

The puzzle board, where participants guess letters to reveal a secret sentence, has also seen technological advances. The puzzle board has evolved from the classic manual letter flips to the addition of electronic displays, making it more dynamic and aesthetically pleasing while maintaining players’ interest.


Wheel of Fortune is a game where the objective is to figure out word puzzles and win the most prizes and cash after three rounds. A unique wheel with 24 segments is used to play the game and calculate the monetary worth of the named letters. The person who accumulates the most money and prizes over the course of many rounds is declared the winner of that episode and moves on to the next. You can only become the “Big Winner” if you figure out the puzzle in the Bonus Round. It’s a game of chance, skill, and vocabulary!

The Rules of the Game

Wheel puzzle board

Wheel of Fortune is a game show in which three players compete in three rounds by attempting to solve hangman-style word puzzles. Each round begins with the participants being assigned a category consisting of blank spaces that must be filled in with the right letters. Categories may include phrases, people, places, and objects. After a random pick has been made to determine who will go first, the participants will take turns either solving the problem, buying vowels with the money they’ve won, or spinning the carnival wheel to identify a consonant. After three rounds, the participant with the most cash and prizes wins and advances to the game’s bonus round.


Some wedges on the carnival wheel designate other rewards or unique aspects of the game, in addition to the monetary values. If the wheel includes two 1/2-car wedges, for instance, and the player collects both of them, the prize for that round’s puzzle is a brand-new vehicle. Other special parts of the game include the million-dollar wedge, which gives a player $1 million if they solve the puzzle right, and the free-play wedge, which gives contestants an extra chance to buy a vowel for free, call a consonant letter, or solve the puzzle. The wild card wedge permits the contestant to name an additional consonant during the regular or bonus rounds. The wheel also contains bankrupt or lose-a-turn wedges. This causes the player to either forfeit all of their profits up to that point or lose a turn at the wheel and the puzzle.

Toss-Up Rounds

Toss-up rounds are included in all Wheel of Fortune games. The board exposes letters one by one during the toss-up round. The contestants battle to see who can call in and answer the puzzle right first. If a contestant’s guess is incorrect, he will be eliminated from that round. The remaining participants then have the option of either guessing immediately or letting the board continue to disclose letters.

Bonus Round

The winner of the previous round advances to the next round, which is a bonus round. The participant spins a smaller wheel containing 24 envelopes, each containing a different reward. After the letters R, S, T, L, N, and E have filled in the blanks in the phrase, person, place, or object’s name, the contestant must answer the riddle. When the contestant gets the right letter, the chosen letters are shown. The contestant then has 10 seconds to figure out how to solve the problem. If he wins, he gets the prize that was written on the envelope he spun at the start of the round.

The Hosts

The magnetic hosts who have graced the stage of “Wheel of Fortune” throughout the course of its history are another aspect that has contributed to the game show’s continued popularity.

Here is a list of all the official Wheel of Fortune hosts.

Chuck Woolery

photo of Chuck Woolery

Chuck Woolery served as Wheel of Fortune’s first host, presiding over the show from its 1975 debut until December 25, 1981.

Woolery and the show’s original letter turner, Susan Stafford, hosted the daytime version of the game. In 1981, Woolery departed the show to host other shows, including the dating program Love Connection.

Pat Sajak

photo of Pat Sajak

When Woolery left the daytime version of “Wheel of Fortune” in 1981, Sajak took over. Before Vanna White joined the show in 1982, he co-hosted the program with Stafford for one year. The evening edition of the program first aired in the year 1983.

In 1989, Sajak departed from the daytime series in order to focus his efforts on “The Pat Sajak Show,” a late-night talk show on CBS. Sajak and White began their hosting duties for the evening edition of the game show upon its first airing in September 1983. Since then, they have been co-hosts of the show.

On the 12th of June, Pat Sajak made the announcement on Twitter that he will be leaving the game show “Wheel of Fortune” following the show’s upcoming 41st season.

Rolf Benirschke

photo of Rolf Benirschke

After Pat Sajak departed the daytime edition of “Wheel of Fortune” in 1989, it was taken over by Rolf Benirschke, a former kicker for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.

Bob Goen

photo of Bob Goen hosting Family Feud

After the daytime edition of “Wheel of Fortune” was cancelled by NBC in May 1989, CBS took over and made Bob Goen the show’s fourth and last host. Goen served as host when the program returned to NBC in early 1991; it was cancelled later that year.

Vanna White

photo of Vanna White together with Pat Sajak

Although White is primarily recognized for her role as co-host and letter turner on the program, she sometimes fills in for Sajak. In 2019, White filled in for Sajak as the show’s main host for the first three weeks after the latter had intestinal surgery.

Ryan Seacrest

photo of Ryan Seacrest

The parent company of “Wheel of Fortune,” Sony Pictures Television, made the announcement on June 27 that Ryan Seacrest will take up hosting duties for the program in 2024, when Pat Sajak retires.

Wrapping Up

Wheel of Fortune’s longevity is a reflection of the show’s broad popularity throughout the years. The Wheel of Fortune has been a source of fascination for viewers throughout the course of many decades, and continuing to its present-day status as a popular television sensation. The program’s engaging gameplay and renowned hosts consistently captivate and delight millions of viewers around the globe.

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