Wheel of Fortune viewers have long been hoping for a champions format, so fans were excited when the show promised “Wheel’s very first tournament” in a Season 39 promo last fall (see below).
However, with the season ending on June 10, that tournament clearly never happened. And many fans aren’t happy. The tournament was initially announced alongside a string of changes for the 39th season, which included the retiring of the Free Play wedge and host Pat Sajak handing over the Final Spin to the player in control of the wheel. But it was the tournament that had fans most intrigued.
“We were promised a tournament in Season 39,” wrote one fan on Reddit. “And they decided not to do it after all even though they publicly announced it in promos and thought nobody would remember.”
The commenter added, “Wheel of Fortune deserves a special second chance week way more than Jeopardy! does, and yet that show is getting one before Wheel, yet the concept of having champions or tournaments on Wheel is always dismissed by Pat and others because of how luck can screw over people with good puzzle solving potential.”
Another Reddit user shared similar sentiments, stating, “That’s one of the things I was thinking of as well. That, changing the wheel to make it less depressing, more expensive cars, less game-breakers, maybe doing another Retro Week, and bringing back some categories (Where are We?, Slogan, Who is It?, Fill in the Number, Clue, etc.).”
Wheel did use to host a weekly tournament, where champions were invited back the following day for a chance to win more prizes. Until 1982, winners could return for up to five days in a row before it was changed to three days. In addition, the top three contestants of the week would return for “Friday Finals” for a chance at bigger jackpots. The producers got rid of the tournament and returning champion formats in 1998.
One Twitter user even shared a clip of Pat talking to Vanna White about how in international versions, the three winners of the previous shows return to play for charity. “That’s awesome! I like it,” says White. “Yeah, it is. Yeah, but we’re not gonna do that,” Sajak responds.
Pat and Vanna: “Bringing winners back to play again is an awesome idea! But we’re never, ever doing it. End of story, even if our international counterparts do.”
— WheelRob (@WheelRob10) April 7, 2022
The fan who shared the clip wrote, “Pat and Vanna: ‘Bringing winners back to play again is an awesome idea! But we’re never, ever doing it. End of story, even if our international counterparts do.’ Then you shouldn’t have promised us a tournament last September…”
Wheel of Fortune, Syndicated, check local listings