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Wheel Of Fortune Fans Were Furious At Pat Sajak For Mocking A Contestant's Lisp

First, let's start off by acknowledging that no one is a perfect human being. We all have our bad days and regrettable moments. For many of us, these incidents live on only in our minds. Thankfully, everyone else around us moves on and forgets. Famous people, however, have an additional problem. Their worst behavior often occurs in front of an audience. And evidence of that behavior is likely going to be captured on camera for future viewing.

Such is the case of a particularly loathsome misstep by one Pat Sajak, longtime host of "Wheel of Fortune." Since joining the game show in 1981, he's gained legions of fans. According to YouGovAmerica, he's the fifth most popular contemporary TV personality — not too shabby. But fans were quick to turn their opinion, at least briefly, over a situation Sajak created one night with a contestant who didn't deserve the treatment he got.

Sajak made fun of a contestant's lisp

In the early days of "Wheel of Fortune," Pat Sajak and co-host Vanna White would sometimes get drunk before hosting. The pair took two-and-a-half-hour dinner breaks while prizes like cars, boats, and gazebos were brought onto the set. "At NBC in Burbank we had a place called Los Arcos across the street, and they served great margaritas," Sajak told ESPN in 2012. "So Vanna and I would go across and have two or three or six and then come and do the last shows and have trouble recognizing the alphabet."

But when he got himself in trouble in 2021, overindulging in margaritas wasn't the problem.

It happened at the top of the show when Sajak was introducing the contestants (via Yahoo). He spoke with Chris Brimble, a West Hollywood tech salesperson. As they chatted briefly about Brimble's work, they discussed the common misconception that seniors are resistant to new technology. "You'd be surprised how open they are," Brimble said.

By then it was clear the contestant had a slight lisp. As their conversation continued, Sajak suddenly highlighted it. "So that's just a myth?" Sajak said. "It is, it is," Brimble agreed, to which Sajak responded, "I thee." It was a play on "I see," and a poor choice for a joke.

Sajak didn't apologize — but he also didn't do it again

Pat Sajak has certainly had better moments. In 2020, for example, he was the one standing up against bullies, urging fans to have some compassion for players who make mistakes. "It always pains me when nice people come on our show to play a game and win some money and maybe fulfill a lifelong dream, and are then subject to online ridicule when they make a mistake or something goes awry," he tweeted.

He's had ups and downs throughout his career on the show, however, and this time, "Wheel of Fortune" fans quickly responded with outrage. Some called for Sajak to quit (via Yahoo). "Thanks for making fun of people with a lisp on tonight's show you arrogant overpaid jerk," one tweeted. "Maybe if you grew up with a speech impediment, you'd understand."

Did Sajak intend to mock Chris Brimble? Was it just an unfortunate gaffe? The answer isn't clear, but in any case, Brimble himself didn't even acknowledge the slight. He simply laughed and carried on with the game. It's unfortunate that Sajak never apologized for the incident. But he did give the contestant a fine and respectful sendoff. "Chris, you had a shot, but you got that last puzzle and you ended up with a very nice night," he said. "Almost all-cash — $12,250. Thanks very much."