About The Show

The Wheel of Fortune is the most popular syndicated game show on television.

The show has been on the air for over 25 years.

It may seem impossible today to imagine Wheel without Pat Sajak and Vanna White, but the show actually started back in 1975. It was a CBS daytime game show then, with Chuck Woolery as the host and Susan Stafford as the letter-turner.

Pat Sajak came on board in 1981, and a year later he was joined by glamorous co-host Vanna White. So we’re talkin’ 20 years of Pat & Vanna here, folks!

In 1983, they syndicated the show as a night time program. It rapidly shot to the top of the syndication charts, and has stayed there ever since. (The daytime version continued to run until 1991.)

It’s a simple show, but a fun one, combining elements of both luck and skill, along with the wit of Pat and the charm of Vanna.

Contestants spin the wheel (risking bankruptcy or lose their turn) if it lands on the wrong space), then guess a letter of the alphabet (or ‘buy’ a vowel). Correct guesses fill in spaces on the big puzzle board. Eventually, those letters form a familiar phrase or name. In theory, contestants try to guess that phrase as early as possible, while only seeing a few of the letters. But since contestants are also trying to win as much money as possible, their strategy is often to keep spinning the wheel even after they have figured out the puzzle, to rack up more dollars. (But they risk losing it all if the wheel lands on the “Bankrupt” space.)

Another thing you might not remember is that back in its early days, Wheel of Fortune didn’t pay its contestants in cash. They had a rather cheesy gimmick of making contestants “spend” all of the dollars they won in the studio on merchandise – some of those prizes were good, some were tacky, all were pretty expensive. Fortunately, they dropped that shopping element of the show in 1987, and jackpots can now run as high as $16,000 in cash. Several players have won over $100,000 on Wheel.

Not much about the show has changed over the years – except that Vanna no longer turns the letters – now she just points to them. And of course Vanna’s dresses (she has gone through more than 5,000 of them.)

The show is taped at the studio which used to be the famous MGM studios, in Culver City – the place where they made “King Kong” and “Gone With the Wind.” It’s now Sony Studios, and houses Columbia & TriStar Pictures.

If you’d like to watch the show being taped live at the studio, just click here to find out how to get tickets. If you’d like to become a contestant on Wheel of Fortune, just click here for information. To read more about the cast, click here.

Contestants must be at least 18 years of age to play the Wheel of Fortune.