'Wheel of Fortune' Viewers Furious Over Hard Puzzle That Cost Contestant $50K

The answer to a puzzle in the Phrase category left viewers stumped.

Wheel of Fortune has stumbled into some controversy throughout its decades-long history, and the long-running game show just managed to do it again. During the Tuesday, September 12 installment of the show, viewers were left just as stumped as contestant Mark Henderson when the answer to the bonus round puzzle was an "unheard" of phrase.

Henderson, a theater professor from Jackson, Mississippi, entered the bonus round with $13,990 amassed during regular play. With the opportunity to win an additional $50,000, the Wheel of Fortune contestant opted for a puzzle in the "phrase" category. After guessing a handful of letters, he was left a puzzle board that read, "_ _ _ R L _ N G  _ R O _ N _," with retiring host Pat Sajak simply telling him, "Well, it's a phrase. You have ten seconds to try to do something with that."

Unfortunately for Henderson, his last-minute guess of "coloring brown" as time ran out was incorrect. Sajak did offer some encouragement, telling him, "Well, you said something," before Vanna White revealed the answer to be, "whirling around."

Henderson, who ultimately ended the episode with $13,990, was not alone in the confusion. On social media, Wheel of Fortune viewers blasted the show for the obscure and "impossible" answer. One person wrote, "No one says 'Whirling Around!?' Another horrible final puzzle in the category of phrase." Somebody else declared, "'Whirling Around' is not a phrase," with a third person asking, "Who the hell uses that final bonus puzzle phrase?!?" Another person called the puzzle "impossible."

This is far from the first time viewers have called out a confusing answer on the show. Back in April, the show faced some backlash after a contestant lost out on thousands of dollars after selecting a puzzle in the "What Are You Doing?" The answer to the puzzle, "Joining the fray," left many viewers confused, some declaring that they had never heard of the phrase before and some dubbing the puzzle "ridiculous."

Wheel of Fortune is currently in its 41st season, which will mark the final season for long-time host Pat Sajak. Sajak, who has been the show's host since December 1981, announced in June that the 2023-24 television season will be his last. Ryan Seacrest is set to take over in 2024.