A 'Wheel Of Fortune' Contestant Lost On This Delicious Word

The contestant lost out on a luxury vehicle by guessing the wrong pastry.

Wheel of Fortune is a secret pleasure of mine. I love shouting frantic answers at the television, trying to beat contestants to the punch. It's hard not to fantasize about winning tens of thousands of dollars, or maybe a vacation or a car. But one recent contestant couldn't beat the buzzer to win something big, and if you're wondering why I'm writing about it today on The Takeout, you can guess the answer had something to do with food.

The ‘Wheel of Fortune’ contestant duped by doughnuts

In the heartbreaking episode, which aired on January 11, contestant TaRhea Marshall had already partially solved the bonus round puzzle. The category was "Food and Drink," and the word "bagels" had already been unearthed. The second half of the puzzle contained the letters "G," "N," "T," and "S," with five letters yet to be turned.


As the clock ticked down, Marshall guessed "beignets" and "croissants" as the second word, but the buzzer rang before she could find the correct answer: DOUGHNUTS. Host Pat Sajak only deepened the disappointment by revealing the bonus round prize would have been a brand-new BMW X1. Despite the loss, though, Marshall still went home with a cool $25,898.

The tricky spelling of “donut” vs. “doughnut”

In Marshall's defense, the word "doughnut" wasn't an easy one to guess. I grew up eating Dunkin' back when it was still called Dunkin' Donuts, and ever since I was a kid, I always assumed that the word was spelled "donut," thanks to the ubiquitous doughnut donut and coffee chain. Merriam-Webster actually notes that instances of "donut" have appeared in edited text since the mid-20th century, and that's right around when Dunkin' got its start. Nevertheless, I have to defer to the AP Stylebook for my job, which prefers the "doughnut" spelling. The devil's always in the details.


When consoling Marshall about the lost opportunity to win the sick ride, Sajak said, "You know, a lot of shops have stopped spelling it [doughnuts] the proper way."

I'm sure many of you are convinced you would have figured out the bonus round solution, just like I've convinced myself that I'd bring home a bunch of cash and some new wheels if I were ever a contestant on the show. But if I ever do make it to the Wheel of Fortune stage, let's just hope I don't make the same mistake former contestant Paul Atkinson did.