(NEXSTAR) – “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak is speaking out after the contestants from a recent episode became the subject of ridicule following an especially trying round of the game show.
During Tuesday’s broadcast, a couple of players seemed stumped by one of the puzzles, even after uncovering nearly all of the letters in the phrase: “ANOTHER FEATHER _N YO_R _A_”
One of the contestants offered a guess. “Another feather in your hat,” she said. The buzzer sounded, indicating an incorrect answer.
The round continued for nearly another two minutes, with the same contestant guessing “lap” and “map” as the final word of the puzzle, and another player calling out letters like “G” and “D” in an attempt to zero-in on the answer. Finally, one of the contestants confidently guessed “C” and proceeded to solve the puzzle.
“Another feather in your cap,” he said.
Following the broadcast, viewers took to social media to share the awkward clip online. Some called it the most “brutal” and “painful” segment they had ever seen. Another deemed it to be “the dumbest two minutes” in the show’s history.
On Wednesday, however, Pat Sajak chimed in to defend the contestants.
“It always pains me when nice people come on our show to play a game and win some money and maybe fulfill a lifelong dream, and are then subject to online ridicule when they make a mistake or something goes awry,” he wrote in a lengthy Twitter thread.
Sajak said he believes the players were “thrown a curve” when they learned that the first guess — “Feather in your hat”— was incorrect, and soon began looking for “alternatives rather than synonyms for ‘hat.’”
“And, of course, when it’s solved, you want to crawl in a hole,” said Sajak, who admitted that he, too, sometimes “teases” the contestants, but ultimately wants to “help them get through it” both during the game and off-camera.
“But mocking them online and calling them names? These are good people in a bad situation under a kind of stress that you can’t begin to appreciate from the comfort of your couch.”
Sajak ended his thread by encouraging viewers to “cut them some slack” because “unless you’re there, you have no idea how different it is in the studio.”
“So, yeah, it was an oddly entertaining puzzle and it’s okay to laugh at the situation. But have a little heart,” he said. “After all, you may be there one day. And no one wants to be trending on Twitter.”