A Valencia man won nearly $100,000 on “Wheel of Fortune,” which aired Monday evening. Tony Harrison, a software project manager, participated in “Wheel of Fortune” for the second time Monday, after a reported “production issue” during his previous appearance. “Wheel of Fortune” broke with tradition and allowed a contestant to appear on the show twice due to a “production issue.” A recent episode of the hit game show saw contestant Tony Harrison, a software project manager from Valencia, Calif., take a commanding lead and perform well above average, ultimately taking home the big win and a very hearty cash. Harrison himself took to Twitter prior to the broadcast to briefly reflect on the journey he’s been on with “Wheel of Fortune” so far. “From a #Wheelmobile contestant search in 2017 to an encore. The longtime TV game show host sat down for his first interview since he had an emergency surgery after getting a “horrific pain” in his stomach due to an in. That was Harrison’s winning total in a dominant “Wheel of Fortune” performance that aired nationally Thursday, including on WTNH-TV8.
It's one of those pop culture phenomena that seems to have been around forever — and depending on how old you are, relatively speaking, it has been. It's Wheel of Fortune, a game show and cash cow created by Merv Griffin, the man who also gave us Jeopardy!, in 1975. (Don't even bother trying to figure it out in dog years.) Current co-star Pat Sajak has been meeting and greeting contestants of all stripes for most of that period, moving from full-time Los Angeles weatherman to game-show host in 1981.
The next year history began to be made in earnest when he was joined by Vanna White, who, according to Biography, triumphed over 200 other applicants to earn the job of letter-turner. The work seems to agree with both of them; in 2019 Sajak broke Bob Barker's record for hosting a game show. Wheel is the longest-running syndicated game show ever, not to mention its more than 60 international editions.
And the category is 'Oops, our bad'
As far as contestants are concerned, auditions are held across this great land of ours via a 35-foot yellow recreational vehicle, sometimes called the WheelMobile. According to the Paley Center for Media website, Paleymatters, over 1 million people have taken a shot at TV greatness. The rules of the game state that a person may compete only once. Or can they?
On April 6, 2020, contestant Tony Harrison made a surprise second appearance on Wheel, according to AOL's news site, which quotes Sajak's introduction: 'If Tony looks familiar — this is Tony Harrison, who's been here before.' In something of an 'Oops, our bad,' moment, Sajak added, 'We had a little production issue' during Harrison's first try, 'and in the interests of fairness, we brought Tony back.' What was the issue? Sajak didn't say. Alert viewers, per Yahoo, remembered that Harrison appeared on the show in 2017. He made it to the bonus round, but wasn't given the category he requested.
Harrison finished the 2020 game up more than $93,000.
Game shows either vet potential contestants so only the best of the best make it through, or they purposely find the goofiest weirdos on Earth whose ridiculous answers will both make the audience laugh and make them feel way better about themselves. Judging from contestants like the following, it seems they care way more about the latter.
Naked grandma (Family Feud)
It takes a lot to be outrageous on Steve Harvey's Family Feud, in which seemingly every survey is designed to create as many dirty answers as possible. But this one contestant, Rod, found a way to stand out regardless. When asked to name 'something a burglar wouldn't want to see when he breaks into a house,' Rod wasted no time buzzing in and shouting 'NAKED GRANDMA' at the top of his lungs, like he'd been dreaming of this moment his whole life. Even Harvey was taken aback, no doubt wondering in his mind why Rod had naked grandmas on his.
Amazingly, he turned out to not only be right (even his opponent admitted 'I don't wanna see that either'), he was credited with the #2 answer! The technical answer was 'occupant' and the judges decided a naked grandma would be one of those. 'Gun' was lumped in with that answer, and to be fair, a gun-toting naked grandma would be the only thing that's worse.
Surf Clay (Wheel of Fortune)
It's hard to win a round about lyrics to a song you've never heard. But you should be able to at least filter out answers in your head that make literally no sense. Or, you could be Steven, who had apparently never heard of Jan and Dean, or logic.
During a round of Wheel of Fortune, Steven buzzed in to solve a puzzle with very few letters left uncovered. The answer was clearly 'Surf City, here we come,' but presumably Steven was more of a Beach Boys fan because he whiffed badly. He blurted out 'Surf clay, where we go,' which sounds far more psychedelic than anything Jan or Dean would've written. You'll notice several issues with this answer beyond 'it's so wrong.' He guesses 'where' for a word with four letters. Also, 'come' is already spelled out completely, and yet he still guesses 'go.' Even Pat had to think for a bit to make sure Steven actually said such a thing before telling him no. The next contestant immediately guessed it correctly, enunciating every word perfectly, almost to rub it in. Poor Steve. At least he has his clay.
What's a hoe? (Jeopardy)
Ken Jennings is no rube — he's the greatest contestant in Jeopardy history, winning a ridiculous 74 games in a row and pocketing over $2.5 million. But even he wasn't immune to the occasional bizarre answer, like the time he blurted out a sexual slur on TV and got away with it.
Picking the $200 clue for 'Tool Time,' the answer was 'This term for a long-handled gardening tool can also mean an immoral pleasure seeker.' Did you immediately think 'hoe'? Because Jennings sure did, blurting that naughty word out immediately with an impish grin on his face. He knew what he was doing, and as soon as Alex figured it out, he tsk-tsk'd the poor champion as the audience laughed it up. After chastising him with 'They teach you that in school in Utah, huh?' another contestant buzzed in with the correct answer, 'rake.'
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On his blog, Jennings wrote of his thought process, admitting he thought it might've been wrong, but that it was worth $200 to say 'hoe' on TV. He also theorizes the show's writers wrote that clue on purpose, hoping somebody would take the bait. If so, viewers everywhere are glad Ken bit.
Apes build roads now, apparently (The Weakest Link)
Weakest Link host Anne Robinson would insult anyone on her stage, whether they did well or not. And this contestant, named Christie, most certainly did not do well.
When her turn came up, she was given the question 'In U.K. geography, the road called Watling Street that now forms part of the A5 was originally built by what civilization?' Robinson had barely gotten through 'Watling' before Christie started shaking her head vigorously. She clearly had no idea what this street was, and definitely didn't know who built it. So instead of running with literally any actual civilization from ancient history, she answers 'apes.' Yes, those enterprising apes. Robinson doesn't even bother with a snide remark, simply telling her the right answer — 'the Romans' — with just enough condescension to tell Christie than a bunch of nonsense syllables would have probably been closer than 'apes.'
It's possible Christie was trying to make a joke in lieu of a real answer, but if so, she became the joke instead.
Mommy/MomMEE (Family Feud)
Family Feud asked the question, 'tell me another way people say mother.' The first two contestants correctly answered 'Mama' and 'Mom/Mommy.' The next two contestants incorrectly guess 'nanny' and 'nana.' Then, we meet Sheila. She answers, 'nah-nah,' which is just another way to say 'nana.' Steve mocks her for it all the way to the bank: 'You trying to say it in Spanish or something?' She gets another chance and runs with 'Mom-MEE.' Yes, right after being told a different inflection doesn't mean a new answer, she gives Steve a different inflection. Now Steve's in full-blown mockery mode, and yet Sheila still doesn't get it. She gives it another go, and answers 'Mommy.' Again! Somehow, Steve finds a way to mock her even harder, dreaming up progressively more insane ways to pronounce 'mommy.'
So then comes try #4: 'nana,' pronounced exactly like the first contestant. Steve, who has basically snapped by now, sings the na-na-hey-hey-goodbye song, then gives her one more chance. She answers 'Mom,' which was already on the board. Clearly resigned to Sheila being less attentive than a teenager during detention, Steve accepts her answer, giving the family a third strike and mercifully allowing everyone to finally move on with their lives. Oh, Sheila.
Pill-pushers (Wheel of Fortune)
Outside of Family Feud, if you're on a game show and want to give an edgy, adult answer, well .. probably don't. Most game shows are family shows. Joe, meanwhile, went on Wheel of Fortune and tried to give it an R rating.
During the 'Final Spin' round, Joe found himself with a halfway-finished puzzle. So he decided to solve it, guessing 'a group of pill-pushers.' You might recognize pill-pushing as one of the last things a positive, life-affirming show like Wheel would want to promote. As such, the crowd broke into hysterical laughter, and Pat Sajak appears to have done a spit-take at Joe's answer. First he stared at the crowd and pretended to leave, because there's no way to top that. Then Sajak mockingly snapped, play-yelling, 'This is Wheel of Fortune, Joe!' because some people need that extra reminder that a kid-friendly game of Hangman is not where you go to talk drugs.
Amazingly, the person after him screwed the puzzle up, too, with 'a group of will-wishes,' despite several exposed letters making it clear that was wrong. Finally, Pat's sanity is saved by the third contestant correctly guessing, 'a group of well-wishers.' That's what Wheel wants to gift the world: well wishes. Not pills.
Booker T's October Thanksgiving (The Weakest Link)
Celebrity game show episodes aren't typically known for their genius-level questioning. The WWE episode of The Weakest Link, however, took things to a whole other lower level.
The team of wrestlers was doing pretty well, until it came time for Booker T to have a turn. He banked $15,000, which proved a wise choice considering what was about to come out of his mouth. Anne Robinson asked him 'What October federal holiday celebrates the discovery of America?' After a few seconds of desperate gear-turning, Booker asked Robinson to repeat that. She did, though she only got as far as 'What October federal holiday-' before a light bulb went off in Booker's head. He answered 'Thanksgiving' because clearly that light bulb needed to be changed. He immediately knew he had screwed up, even before Robinson reminded him it's Columbus Day. Maybe he thought they were taping in Canada.
Wheel Of Fortune Solutions
Once the round was over, the voiceover guy announced Booker was statistically the Weakest Link, having answered zero of his questions correctly. Robinson continued to dig in, noting, 'You're not showing off your muscles. You're certainly not showing off your brain power. How was your October Thanksgiving?' Booker was voted off the game soon after, though truth be told, turkey with stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce sounds divine in October, or any time of year.
Regis and Kelly who? (Wheel of Fortune)
On shows like Wheel of Fortune, pronunciation is key. Contestants have lost thousands of dollars for dropping the 'g' from 'swimming,' so if you're ever on the show, remember to enunciate perfectly. Literally everyone in the above video, meanwhile, did not.
The puzzle was very clearly, 'Regis Philbin & Kelly Ripa,' and the first contestant knew it. He did not, however, know how to pronounce Regis's last name, running with 'Regis Philburn.' As any fan of late '90s R&B will tell you, 'almost' doesn't count, and Pat did not accept this answer. So the next contestant spins, adds another letter, and then goes bankrupt, despite the answer literally being fed to him by the last guy. So contestant three buys an 'I' and an 'A,' which almost fills the entire puzzle. Time to solve! And he does, except he can't pronounce Kelly's last name, running with 'Kelly Reepa.' Wrong again, off to the next guy, who doesn't even bother to spin. He just solves, and gets Kelly's surname right before royally screwing up with Regis 'Philmin.' On to the next contestant, who spins to fill every remaining consonant, leaving the puzzle 100 percent exposed. So he solves, and now it's Kelly's turn to hear her name mangled: 'Kelly Ripe-a.' Too bad her name wasn't 'Jones.'
Finally, just before the show bled into Jeopardy's runtime, the next contestant solved and pronounced everything correctly. Kelly Rippah must've been so proud.
Black zombies (Family Feud)
Despite their not being real, most people know what zombies are. Except, of course, for the Family Feud contestant straight-up asked to describe one.
In this episode, Steve Harvey asks the contestants to name 'something you know about zombies.' A white contestant named Christie buzzes in and, for whatever reason, answers 'black.' As in, 'zombies are black.' That's not the best answer to give around, well, anyone, but certainly not Steve Harvey, who can scarcely believe what he just heard. Christie continues to dig herself a hole with comments like, 'I don't know if they're white or..' and 'It's up there! It's up there!' All Harvey can muster is 'You shut up, lady!' before giving her the strike she had to know was coming.
The other contestant, who had clearly seen a zombie movie, played a zombie game, or at least knew enough about to them to not assume they're black, guessed 'they move slow.' That was only the #6 answer out of six, but considering her competition, that was more than enough to take the lead.
What's a yard? (Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?)
Wheel Of Fortune Contestant Tony Harrison
The point of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? was to prove most adults weren't — they forgot much of their childhood lessons while distracted by the real world. Nowhere was this more evident than Jennifer, who couldn't remember what a yard was.
Tony Harrison First Time On Wheel Of Fortune
After she selected the 'Second Grade Measurements' category, host Jeff Foxworthy asked, 'If Jacob stands on Spencer's shoulders, they are two-and-a-half yards high. How many feet is that?' It's obviously 7.5 feet, but Jennifer had no clue, starting off with 'I just wanna say the length of a football field and be done with it.' Then the real rambling begins, as she starts thinking out loud: 'Well, there's five thousa..52, 89 feet in a yard or something like that.' Even Spencer, one of the kids, is staring with pure incredulity, like he knew adults were pretty dumb on this show, but he didn't expect it to get this bad.
Tony Harrison Wheel Of Fortune 2017
Jennifer then decides to cheat by 'peeking' off a student's paper, except the student was also way off, guessing 78 feet. Even Jennifer knows this was wrong, yelling 'There's 352 feet in a yard!' with 100 percent certainty. Now it's Jacob's turn to stare like he's amazed she knows how to breathe. She then reverses course, committing to 78 feet. Only then does Foxworthy remind her there are 3 feet in a yard, meaning she's way wrong. Maybe Jennifer was trying to measure in inchworms or .. bread crumbs or something. Stay in school, kids.