Audi is stepping in after a recent “Wheel of Fortune” episode sparked controversy.
A contestant named Charlene Rubush correctly solved a puzzle on Tuesday’s episode, but didn’t say the whole phrase continuously before the buzzer sounded. As a result, she missed out on winning a brand-new Audi Q3, a luxury SUV worth more than $35,000.
“Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak gave her the puzzle with letters filled in, told her the category was “What are you doing?” and asked the woman to solve within 10 seconds.
“Choosing the right… card?” she guessed the first time. Then she said “Choosing the right…” and dramatically paused before saying the last word in the puzzle, which happened to be “word.”
“Choosing the right word” was correct, but she did not win the car due to a technicality: She didn’t say it in a “continuous” phrase before the buzzer sounded.
“You know, this one’s tough, because you said all the right words, including the word ‘word’ but, as you know, it’s gotta be more or less continuous,” 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.”
Rubush still walked away with $16,500 in prize money and a vacation, but social media erupted as fans complained about the rule, saying she deserved to win the car. Audi apparently agreed.
“You’re a winner in our eyes, Charlene. Now, let’s get you a prize. Time to #GiveHerTheQ3,” Audi wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
Tara Rush, Audi of America Chief Marketing Officer, confirmed Thursday that the car company was able to reach Rubush and told CNN they were “thrilled to gift Charlene” with a brand new car.
“It is the season of giving after all and, technicality or not, we are always eager to share a bit of Audi magic and cheer!” Rush said in a statement.
Later into the night and into the next day, Twitter fans debated whether the ruling was fair.
Some users were ticked off by the rule the game show had in place and thought that the contestant deserved to win the car.
Others agreed that Sajak’s ruling was fair, and that her answer should have been in a complete phrase before time ran out.
Even though the contestant did not go home with a car, she still went home with a nice pile of cash, so it is not a bad consolation prize even if she did not successfully complete the bonus round.