Santa's sleigh is an Audi. Car company provides good cheer for Wheel of Fortune contestant

Santa's sleigh is an Audi. Car company provides good cheer for Wheel of Fortune contestant
Photo by Robb Cohen/Invision/AP

A Wheel of Fortune contestant made it to the final puzzle only to have the grand prize fall just beyond her grasp over a technicality. A woman named Charlene came thisclose to winning a brand-new Audi Q3 only to go home without it.

For those who do not watch Wheel of Fortune, it is a word puzzle game. Contestants call letters and the lovely Vanna White flips the tiles on the big board until someone solves the puzzle. It could be a phrase, a proper name, or even a crossword puzzle. The contestants are only given which kind of category the answer falls in. Is it a living thing? A person? Fun and games? Maybe it’s food and drink. You get the picture. Whichever of the three contestants ends up with the most prize money at the end of the game gets to go to the final puzzle round for a grand prize. On Tuesday’s show, that grand prize was an Audi Q3. Not too shabby.

The contestant playing the final round chooses a category out of a list of three. Charlene chose the category “What are you doing?” The show provides the letters “RSTLNE” to get the round started and if those appear in the answer, they are flipped on the board to get the contestant started. Next, the contestant chooses three consonants and one vowel. Then the guessing happens, with a ten-second time limit. The contestant is supposed to read the answer out loud in a normal conversational flow, no extended pauses between words. That’s the rub for Charlene in this case. She solved the puzzle but show host Pat Sajak ruled against the win. Charlene had trouble with the last word and when she figured it out, she got all the words within the timeframe but there was too much of a pause between the rest of the words and the final one, according to the rules, said Sajak. The audience groaned and Vanna appeared to think she had won because Vanna started to clap. Charlene, to her credit, was a good sport and took the host’s ruling in stride.

Ironically, the answer to the final puzzle was Choosing The Right Word.

“This one’s tough because you said all the right words, including the word ‘word’ but as you know, it’s got to be more or less continuous,” host Pat Sajak said. “We’ll allow for a little pause but not four or five seconds. I’m sorry, you did a good job in getting it but we can’t give you the prize and it was the Audi.”

As it turns out, Alex Jacob, a Jeopardy! All-Star, 2015 Tournament of Champions winner, saw Charlene’s loss and appealed to Wheel of Fortune to give her the car. The two shows have the same executive producer. Alex harnessed the power of social media and soon Audi responded. They found Charlene and announced she will get an Audi after all.

You know the next tweet about this will be Charlene being presented with the keys to her new Audi. Audi couldn’t have wished for better publicity than this story, especially at this time of year. Good for them for seizing the opportunity.

The next night, another contestant won the Audi. Here is what that looked like:

I watch Wheel of Fortune regularly. I saw this show and also made the “awww” noise when she didn’t win the car. Yes, games have rules but she got all the words, she just didn’t string them all together to say it with an even flow. Good for Audi stepping up for Charlene. It’s a feel-good story that we can all enjoy.

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