'Wheel of Fortune' Contestant Loses $10K on Awkward Technicality, Given New Prize After Pat Sajak Apology

An unfortunate answer on Wheel of Fortune has turned into something positive for a former contestant on the show. Kristen Shaw, a 26-year old Maine resident, misspoke when giving an answer while taping the show back in October. During the show's crossword puzzle segment, Shaw recited the answer as "right, football, left and Sally." Unfortunately, though her guess was correct, her addition of the word "and" disqualified her on a technicality.

After Shaw's unfortunate response, host Pat Sajak delivered the news rather sympathetically. "Most times I caution people not to add anything, and you maybe didn't even hear yourself say it but you threw an 'and' in there with the last thing and we have to go by the rules."

Though Shaw ended up losing a prize package totalling around $10,000, including a trip to Nashville, things didn't turn out so bad. According to USA Today, after the episode aired on Thursday this week, the moment went viral, and Shaw was flooded with Facebook messages rallying behind her.

One of the messages came from L.J. Whalen, a director of the Nashville-based tourism company Adventureworks. It turns out, he had rallied several local vendors to chip in and give Shaw the vacation he felt she'd earned. The trip will include hotel, airfare, and a trip to the Grand Ol' Opry.

"Our hospitality community is so close-knit, and we'd love to show Ms. Shaw and the nation that we're a lot more than boot-stomping and beer drinking," read a press release put out by Whalen. "This is what we do here in Nashville. We give second chances, AND we are not going to make you solve a puzzle to claim it."

Shaw said that she was shocked to the point of being rendered "almost speechless" by the Whalen's response.

"There is a lot of negativity in this world, but this shows me we are all human, we make mistakes, and for someone to want to give me a second chance, it just blew me away." She plans to take the trip with her mother, although the two haven't decided on a date just yet.


Wheel of Fortune will be experiencing a change starting next week, as the episodes where long-time letter-turner Vanna White is set to take over hosting duties will start airing. White stepped into the role after Sajak needed time to recover after emergency surgery to correct a blocked intestine.