'Wheel of Fortune' Has Been on the Air for Years — Where Does It Get All This Prize Money?

Kori Williams - Author

Oct. 20 2021, Published 7:07 p.m. ET

Game shows like Wheel of Fortune keep us glued to our TV screens. We love to see Vanna White change the letters on the board, watch the contestants get excited when they win something, and guess alongside them. Plus, the sound the wheel makes when it spins is so satisfying. When people win all kinds of money and cars, we all imagine ourselves in that studio doing the same one day.

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But when it comes to prizes, we tend to worry about where it's going and not where it comes from. But where does Wheel of Fortune get its money? The show has been on TV for decades and doesn't look to be running out soon. Here's what we know about how the show keeps prize money on hand.

Where does 'Wheel of Fortune' get its money?

Wheel of Fortune, just like any other show, has sponsors in the form of commercial ads. Shows then use the money from these ads to stay afloat and it's likely that part of the money is set aside as a prize for contestants. Some sources say that game shows are not expensive to produce in comparison to other shows, and that does make sense.

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When it comes to game shows like Wheel of Fortune, they only need to have one set that probably doesn't see a lot of damage besides the expected wear and tear from a continuous stream of guests. There doesn't need to be a bunch of different sets with different lighting and location changes like a series or movie might need. So that money can be used as a cash prize.

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The same can be said about cars or vacations that are given away on game shows. The maker is most likely a sponsor of the show. Having one of their vehicles featured looking shiny and new under the studio lights can be seen as a great source of promotion for the brand. So they may be giving this car to someone for free, but the sales for the same kind of car could be worth it in the end.

Do 'Wheel of Fortune' contestants have to pay taxes on prize money?

Yes, unfortunately. Any prize money won in the U.S. needs to have taxes deducted. According to Nerd Wallet, it really depends on how much money you win. If you win at least $600, you get a particular tax form that needs to be sent to the IRS.

You'll have to pay federal taxes regardless of where you are in the U.S. but some individual states don't have income taxes. This means you get to keep more of the money depending on where you live.

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Winning a lot of money at once could also put you in a higher tax bracket if it's a lot more than what you make annually. In this case, you would be put into a higher tax bracket and have to pay more.

But you also pay taxes on other prizes as well. If you win a trip or a car you also have to report that to the IRS and pay taxes on it.

You can go to the Wheel of Fortune website to find out where it airs in your area. You can also watch the show on Netflix.

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