Pat Sajak had a major on-air slip-up during Thursday's new episode of Wheel of Fortune. During the bonus round, the longtime host, 74, accidentally gave away the answer to the contestant as half of the 12 letters in the puzzle remained unturned, leaving the board reading, "_ _ _ TE _ RAN _ L _."
As Sajak took note of the puzzle, he let out a "Yikes" before going on to say, "Well, I'd rather be standing here than there, quite frankly." The answer to the puzzle, which Sajak stated clearly, was "quite frankly," though the contestant did not manage to solve the puzzle before time ran out. The moment caught the attention of plenty of viewers, and the official social channels for the long-running game show even shared the moment, asking, "Did anyone catch this?" In a video shared after the show aired, Sajak addressed the mishap, telling Vanna White he realized his mistake as soon as the words left his mouth
"I wonder how many people at home caught it. There weren't many letters up there and I said, 'I'd rather be here than up there, quite frankly' — which was the puzzle. But it goes to show you that people are concentrating and they're not paying any attention to me," he said, adding that there was "no reason" the contestant should have guessed the answer. "It's funny what your ... mouth will say when your brain says, 'You shouldn't do that.'" Sajak ended the video by poking a little fun at his mistake, telling viewers, "quite frankly, see you next time." White chimed in with, "Yes, we will!"
The moment marked the latest on-air gaffe for the host and came just two months after he faced backlash for mocking a contestant's speech impediment. During the Monday, Feb. 22 broadcast, contestant Chris Brimble, who has a lisp, introduced himself as someone who works for a company that sells "technology that benefits older adults.” Sajak then asked if it is "a myth" that older adults are resistant to new technology. Brimble responded by stating, "You'd be surprised how open they are," with Sajak replying, "Ah, I thee," instead of "I see," seemingly mocking Brimble's lisp. The moment prompted a heated response from viewers, with some even calling for Sajak to leave the show.
The 74-year-old has been a Wheel of Fortune staple for decades, serving as host since 1982. That same year, White joined him as the letter turner, and the two have been appearing on the program, which is the longest-running syndicated game show in the U.S., ever since.