Vinay Menon: ‘Wheel of Fortune’ gaffes secretly spell out the conspiracy theories among us

Pretend you’re a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune.”

The category is “People.” There are three words. You have just asked for an “N.” Host Pat Sajak confirms there are three. After the eerily ageless Vanna White struts across the stage to reveal them on the board, you scrutinize the word puzzle.

It reads: “TH- N-T -N-R-T-N.”

Your brain tries to fill in the blanks.

Your mouth opens and out tumbles, “THE BEST BUTTERCUT.”

This scenario played out in real life Thursday when a contestant named Matt, standing on the right, entered the game show Hall of Shame known as “Wheel of Fortune Fails.” Did Matt suffer a head injury before taping? If his name was a puzzle with only the vowel revealed, would he stare at “-A-” and confidently say, “WASABI.”

I’m not a C-NSP-R-CY TH-R-ST. But something SP-KY is happening at “Wheel of Fortune” during this pandemic. In April, there was a puzzle under the category, “What Are You Doing?” What contestant Nico did was enter the Hall of Shame.

There were only two letters missing in, “LEAVING MY LA-TO- AT HOME.”

Even Stevie Wonder would’ve picked a P. But Nico went with an F.

You know, because Dell and Apple are in the business of making laftof computers.

A few weeks ago, the gaffe Gods even came for Sajak. The final category was, “Phrase.” When only half of the letters were revealed — the puzzle read “–TE -RAN-L-“ – Sajak sympathized with the bearded contestant now tasked with a Hail Mary.

“Well, ah, I’d rather be standing here than there, quite frankly,” said Sajak.


He gave it away. I swear to you, I’m not sitting here in a T-NF-L H-T. But if you do an analysis of the blunders on “Wheel of Fortune,” they correlate with a spike in conspiracy theories bubbling beyond the Sony Pictures soundstage.

There were a lot of lunatics in 2012 who believed the world would end that December. The so-called “2012 Phenomenon” was a muddled eschatological mishmash of end of days doomsaying, involving everything from Mayan prophesy to catastrophic intergalactic conflict and, if I’m not mistaken, poisonous arachnids.

That same year, Marvel released its first “Avengers” movie. And that same year, a Wheel contestant tried to solve this fairly obvious puzzle: “S-ER-AN AND W-NDER W-AN.”

But what his brain saw was: “SUPERMAN AND SPIDER WOMAN.”

A couple of years earlier, conspiracy theorists were preoccupied with what some called “Operation Couch Potato.” The bizarre claim was that governments were secretly pushing cable boxes into living rooms with spy cameras. Around this time, a “Thing” puzzle on “Wheel of Fortune” was down to, “S-LF-PO-T–T.”

But instead of answering, “SELF-PORTRAIT,” a contestant said, “SELF-POTATO.”

In 2018, as speculation grew about Russia having a secret dossier on the U.S. president – one that allegedly included a video of urinating prostitutes — another contestant needed one letter, a C, to solve a “Same Name” puzzle: “BRIDAL & -OLD SHOWER.”

She instead made headlines by guessing, “BRIDAL & GOLD SHOWER.”



The following year, as sex scandals stormed the news cycle, a contestant also needed just one letter to solve: “A STREETCAR NA-ED DESIRE.”

But he asked Pat for a K. The audience gasped with naked horror.

People, do I need to SP-LL TH-S -UT? In 2014, when more celebrities spoke up about climate change, there was a “Song Lyrics” puzzle on the board: “S-RF C-Y -ERE -E COME.” But in what the New York Post then deemed “the dumbest ‘Wheel of Fortune’ guess of all-time,” contestant Stephen guessed, “SURF CLAY WHERE WE GO.”

He somehow even managed to botch the last word that was already there.

The Post was wrong about one thing. The wild guesses keep getting dumber. In fact, they are getting so dumb, we can’t even agree on the mistake. On Friday, there were stories that reported contestant Matt had guessed, “THE BEST BUTTERCUP.” I clearly heard, “THE BEST BUTTERCUT.” Here’s the thing: neither one makes a lick of sense. Again, Matt had just asked for an N and got three. Then he offered an answer that had zero Ns.

It’s as if he asked for an X in a Musical Instrument clue and decided “XYL-PH-N-” must be “BONGOS.” It’s bonkers. But it’s not surprising if you C-NN-CT TH- D-TS.

Doesn’t butter contain lipids? Aren’t lipids used in the mRNA vaccines? You don’t find it a little odd Matt looked at “-N-R-T-N” and, instead of “GENERATION,” his brain went with “BUTTERCUT” or “BUTTERCUP” at the same time a multigenerational swath of kooks now believe the ‘rona vaccine has made them magnetic?

Imagine being lucky enough to get inoculated and fearing getting stuck to the fridge.

Buy an O and an E because that is no C-INCID-NC-.

Go back to the 2016 season and count the number of times contestants inexplicably asked for a Q – the same year the QAnon freaks got going. I can tell you right now, if there’s an Astronomy clue, someone will bellow, “FL-T E-RTH.”

A Living Things category? Just wait for the “B-GF-T.”

“Wheel of Fortune” is no longer just the easier game show that comes on before “Jeopardy!” It’s a paranormal hotbed of subconscious gaffes that reflect the broader conspiracies now destroying rational thought. Don’t be S-LLY.

Rotting in this field of disinformation, we are all the self-potatoes.