Game show contestants.. Huh?

Earlier this evening I was watching Wheel Of Fortune.

What’s with these people? Early in the first round a lady won a free spin. She quickly lands on ‘lose a turn’ and proceeds to use her free spin with only $800.00 in her bank and obviously no clue to the answer to the puzzle. Huh?

Anyone with half a brain knows that a contestant should keep the free spin for a more pertinent time, like, say, $18,000.00 in the bank and you hit the lose turn spot or miss a letter. Then it comes in handy.

This also applies to the contestant who late in the puzzle lands on the $2,500.00 spot and, knowing the answer, picks a solo letter as opposed to a letter that has more postitions in the puzzle.

The overall question is this; Given that these people auditioned for the chance to be on the game show, and likely know the rules and best strategy, why do they seem so inept?

You overlooked the obvious. Many of the people who get a chance to be on the show are only casual observers of the show. This is their chance to be on TV. Just because they don’t know every subtle bit of strategy doesn’t mean they don’t even have half a brain or are inept. They just don’t study the game enough. I know I don’t (and I’ve watched the show off and on forever, or so it seems). But if I had a chance, I’d try out for the show and, if chosen, would probably look pretty stupid in your eyes. But hey, I waould have been on TV!!

Also, it’s very, very, different ewhen the lights and camera are on you and that money is real. $800 in the bank now looks better that $18,000 you might possibly have later when the camera is rolling. The pressure while sitting at home and watching TV is non-existant.

Two problems:

  1. This isn’t a matter of needing to have in depth knowledge of the game, but rather basic logic. I heard about some people once that studied several epoisodes of The Newlywed Game to get a feel for the show and what sort of questions are asked. This isn’t like that. You don’t need to study a bunch of Wheel of Fortune episodes to know that you’re not going to guess the puzzle with only a few letters revealed, or that “t” tends to show up more than “z”.

  2. CnoteChris’ point was these people probably have seen the show quite a bit. It they went to all the trouble to get on the show, they probably have seen it often and are familiar with at least some of the game. Another example of this is The Price Is Right. During the bidding stage, sometimes the last contestant will bid $1. One time the next-to-last contestant bid $1, and the last contestant bid $2. The next-to-last contestant must have seen the show enough to notice that some people bid $1, but not smart enough to figure out why.

Your point about the pressure reducing people’s thinking skills is good, though. I don’t think I’d be able to think straight on a game show.

The Ryan has it right. I can’t believe these people can’t use better judgement, despite being on television. These people more than likely know the game.

Do the producers purposely pick dolts? Or is this simply a reflection of the talent pool? Does it make the show better to have mediocre contestants?

Further observation: On Jeopardy! the contestants are usually fairly bright. However, on almost every show the final clue determines the overall winner, usually, but that shouldn’t be the case. The daily doubles, if truly used as a daily double, should blow that person way ahead of the others. Instead, what invariably happens is the contestant wagers something low. Understandable if they don’t know the category well. But if they know the category they should go for broke. I mean, knowone knows the final category, yet they all play conservative to that point and then risk it all. Am I missing something here?

Has anyone on this board ever been a contestant? Is it truly that difficult?

I’m afraid I cannot find the actual quote, but I distinctly recall Pat Sajak saying something close to, “sometimes it gets so intense during the show that you can hear the sound of individual brain cells dropping to the floor.”

I’m pretty certain that the show’s contestant casters make very certain that they don’t get any crossword puzzle writers, English professors, or cryptographers on board. Here’s a list of questions that I think would uphold the standard Wheel of Fortune contestants have traditionally maintained:

What is a vowel?

A) A speech sound created by the relatively free passage of breath through the larynx and oral cavity, usually forming the most prominent and central sound of a syllable.

B) The internal organ that makes poo-poo.
What is a consonant?

A) A speech sound produced by a partial or complete obstruction of the air stream by any of various constrictions of the speech organs.

B) That embarrassing condition where you, like, can’t get it up.
What is the most common letter in the English language?

A) E.

B) elemenopee.
When fishing for a quote, do you find yourself relying on Shakespeare?

A) Yes.

B) I fish for bass, with a Zebco.

I always thought that it was pretty obvious that they do not choose the brightest contestants for the Wheel of Fortune. They seem to pick perky, lively people, who will come off well on TV.