It’s always fun to watch people win a bunch of money on game shows that are generally rigged against the contestant. But, what makes a truly great win is when players accomplish what looks like the impossible. Last night’s Wheel of Fortune win certainly meets that standard. Host Pat Sajak called it the “most amazing solve” he has ever seen in the show’s 30-year history.
Contestant Emil managed to guess “New Baby Buggy” with just the “Ne” to work with, winning $63,099 in total. Here’s his mastery in action:
It’s not possible to watch that without smile-crying.
But is it really the “most amazing solve” in Wheel history? In fact, Sajak has used that line before, calling a 2010 puzzle win “the most amazing solve we’ve ever had.” Since Sajak seems to throw around that honor, we have decided to do a definitive power ranking of unbelievable Wheel wins.
5. The So Bad It’s So Good Loser
The last place on our power rankings goes not to a winner, but a loser, who thought Johnny Cash sang the oh-so-popular song “I Have the Wine” instead of the incredibly famous (also a movie title!) “I Walk the Line.” We know, it’s not nice to laugh when other people fall, but here’s your cautionary tale!
There are a lot more screwups where that came from, including the guy who lost because he mispronounced a word. But we’re here to celebrate glory.
4. The Million-Dollar Win
Due to the mechanics of the game, it’s very difficult to win a million dollars. First you have to land on the million-dollar sliver on the wheel, guess a correct letter, and win that puzzle for which you snagged the money. Then you have to make it to the final bonus round–without ever landing on “bankrupt.” But even then there are no guarantees. You have to spin another smaller wheel and just happen to get the million-dollar card. And then you have to guess the bonus puzzle in the 10 seconds allotted.
So, when someone wins a million dollars on the show–even if they have a pretty easy bonus puzzle like “leaky faucet”–it is very impressive and heartwarming and chill-inducing. But it also involves a lot of luck beyond our contestant’s control. Still, firsts deserve their place in history, which is why Michelle Lowenstein’s game comes in at number four on our list:
3. The One-Letter Win
Sure, a boatload of free money puts a smile on anyone’s face, but high-level puzzle solving takes more skill than luck. Caitlin Burke got the answer to a very long puzzle with just one letter. It was so insane, this was the one Sajak also called it the most amazing solve in Wheel history. Behold the glory:
The dude next to her can’t even believe it. Later, Burke told Esquire she didn’t even need the “l.”
2. No Help, No Problem
Emil solved his puzzle with two letters, which technically means he had more clues than Caitlin. But, last night’s winner nudges his way to the number two spot because, one, is “new baby buggy” even a real thing? and, two, it was the final round, so the stakes are higher. Here is Emil guessing an impossible non-phrase to win a bunch of money.
1. An Even Better Million-Dollar Win
I don’t care what Sajak says, I still think last year’s million dollar win ranks more “amazing” than Emil’s last night. Like our first million-dollar winner, it took a lot of luck and work to even qualify for the ginormous prize. But, as the person who uploaded the YouTube clip of this feat notes, Autumn Erhard “had to work for it more than LEAKY FAUCET.” The puzzle wasn’t as impossible as “new baby buggy,” but with very little help she got “tough workout.”
Think you can top these? Show us your favorite game-show moments in the comments.