Things spun out of control for one Wheel of Fortune contestant Tuesday night. In a goof gone viral, Paul Atkinson, a firefighter from Oregon, landed on the $1 million section of the wheel and opted to solve the puzzle — which was “Corner Curio Cabinet.” But he mispronounced it “Corno curo cabinet” and lost. Host Pat Sajak told the stunned contestant, ”It’s one of those it just didn’t come out the way you intended it to!”
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Sadly, we’ve seen these tragic, careless errors on the game show before. Navy intel specialist Renee Durette went viral in December 2012 when she figured out the puzzle “Seven Swans a Swimming,” but lost the $3,850 she had racked up because she failed to pronounce the “g” in “swimming,” shouting the colloquial “swimmin’” instead. “That’s kind of how I speak, you know, being from Florida, and I asked for the ‘g’ so I knew it was there,” Durette told ABC News.
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But the contestants that go viral are usually the ones who mess up basic pop culture references. In May 2012, a Reed College history major was so eager to solve “Mag_c” “_and” that he shouted out every possible combination he could think of except the real answer “Magic Wand”: “Magic Hand!, Magic Band!, Magic Yand!, Sand! Vand! Cand! Janed! Pand! Fand! Band! [Buzzer] Wand! WAND! OH!” In January 2013, one contestant blew a Johnny Cash-themed puzzle by blurting out “I Have the Wine” instead of the real name of his song “I Walk the Line.” And don’t forget the classic January 2010 episode when the contestants couldn’t pronounce Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa.
But there is hope! In May 2013, Laguna, Calif. resident Autumn Erhard became the second contestant in the show’s history to win the $1 million prize by correctly guessing “Total Workout” with just four letters revealed.