Pat Sajak and Vanna White
Source: ABC

People Buy Vowels on 'Wheel of Fortune' All the Time — but How Much Do Vowels Even Cost?

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Jan. 13 2022, Published 3:02 p.m. ET

Touted every weekday as "America's game," Wheel of Fortune is a renowned game show that most of us know about by now. Long before Wordle took the world by storm, Pat Sajak and Vanna White have had players guessing letters, filling in words, and winning cash for more than 47 years on ABC. Anyone who's watched the show before knows that players spend their time guessing consonants and buying vowels. But have you ever wondered how much vowels cost?

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The age-old formula for Wheel of Fortune has a pretty basic skeleton. Players spin an enormous wheel to land on a dollar value or some sort of prize. Then they must guess letters to fill in a Hangman-like puzzle on screen. Whoever guesses the puzzle first wins that round, and the person with the highest cash amount at the end earns the chance to win bigger prizes in the Bonus Round.

But the rules are more complex than one might think, and the importance of vowels comes with a price.

wheel of fortune
Source: ABC
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How much do vowels cost in 'Wheel of Fortune'?

Watching the wheel spin can be pretty satisfying for audiences, and it isn't uncommon for groups watching at home to play along with the contestants in trying to guess the phrase themselves. But the players in each episode play with a whole other set of rules than those of us watching from our couches.

For example, the number a player lands on is important. If they guess a consonant correctly, they earn cash for every instance in which the consonant appears in the phrase.

And that cash isn't just for show. It actually ends up being crucial to the rest of the game. Eventually, players are going to need to guess certain vowels. These are essential to help players connect all those consonants together and help them solve the puzzle. Of course, Wheel takes that into account, so players need to pay up to use them.

Whenever a player says "I'd like to buy a vowel," Pat confirms it before they guess. According to Word Finder, buying a vowel costs $250.

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Vowels function very differently than consonants within the game. While guessing a consonant correctly builds up your winnings, the importance of vowels comes at a cost. But luckily, they come at a flat rate. Even if a particular vowel appears multiple times in a puzzle, you only have to spend $250 for all occurrences of said vowel. As the series evolved over the past several decades, Pat now lets players and the audience know if there are "no more vowels" in a puzzle to let players concentrate on consonants.

Source: ABC

For less pressure in the final round speed-up, vowels don't cost any money toward the end, allowing players to guess for free while trying to solve the final puzzle.

Between "America's game" and a daily word-guessing brain teaser on your phone, never underestimate the power (or the price) of vowels.

Wheel of Fortune airs every weekday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

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