America’s Failed Education System Comes to Wheel of Fortune


I don’t make a habit of tuning into Wheel of Fortune on a regular basis. At least, I don’t make a habit of it these days. I was fascinated with that show as a kid, probably because my sister and I were always really good at it. Because of that, when I happen to be in front of a television and Wheel of Fortune is on, I at least pay the scant amount of attention required to try and solve the puzzles.

That’s the situation I found myself in last night. I had just changed the channel in advance of watching something else. I was a few minutes early, so the tail end of Wheel of Fortune was still on. As usual, I paid just enough attention to see what the puzzle was. But soon, I found myself paying attention to something else entirely… the complete and total failure of the American education system, played out for all the world to see on a long running television game show.

When I first started focusing on the puzzle at hand, the category was PLACE and the puzzle looked like this…


A lot of you might have already figured it out, if so, please don’t shout it out and spoil it for everyone else who may be reading this with you, if tandem internet viewing is something you partake in. As for me, I was split between Pat Sajak’s mellow game show host stylings and putting together this morning’s TSJ feature, so I hadn’t quite figured it out yet due to a lack of concentration.

But a couple more spins revealed a few more letters…


Boom! I got it! I really did have it at this point. You probably do by now also. I was fairly certain whichever contestant was up next would have it too. I was even more sure of that when this happened…


If you’re unfamiliar, the Final Spin happens when time is running short. Pat Sajak spins the wheel one last time to settle on a dollar amount that each contestant will get for correctly picking a letter and each contestant just takes turns shouting out a letter and taking a shot at solving the puzzle. It usually doesn’t take long after that for the puzzle to be solved.

Given the fact that I had already figured it out, I assumed a winner was just seconds from being decided. I was even more confident when a few more letters were revealed and the puzzle now looked like this…


Got it yet? Of course you do, who the fuck wouldn’t know the answer to that puzzle by now? The category is PLACE. Just say what’s already there and the rest should just fill itself in. At least, it should if you aren’t one of the three brain dead contestants on this particular episode of Wheel of Fortune. But just in case, let’s reveal one more letter and see if it clicks for you…


It’s at this point that the scholarly gentleman on the left said “Aviland, New Zealand?”

What the motherfuck is Aviland, New Zealand? Even if that’s a place, nobody could possibly be expected to know about it in this situation. This is Wheel of Fortune, not Ken Jennings vs. Watson in the final round of Jeopardy.

What an idiot, right? He’s sure going to regret his dumbassery when one of those two ladies solves the puzzle, which I assumed one of them assuredly would once the puzzle looked like this…


Well, the woman in the middle didn’t get it. Instead, she asked if there was an “R” in the puzzle? Yes, there is, it’s in the part of the puzzle where we all pause to ask “R you in a fucking coma?” Come on, lady at the end, you’ve got this…


Well, you can probably tell from the arm positioning at work here that she, in fact, does not have this. She doesn’t have it at all. Who would have thought it would come to this? After blowing it with that ridiculous “Aviland, New Zealand” guess, dumbass there on the left is going to win. Alright sir, let’s get this handled and get the fuck out of here. You’re going to solve the puzzle now, right? Right?!?!


Nope. As you can see in the above photo, not only did he not get it, but the woman in the middle is still stumped and the woman on the right is up again and, just like before, she’s completely lost. For the love of god, all she has to do is just say what’s already there even sort of correctly and the round is hers. So what does she say?

“Aackland, New Zealand?”

Holy beejeezus, lady. It’s at this point that Pat reminds this collective of idiocy that there are only vowels remaining in the puzzle. And, in turn, it’s at this point that we’d like to add that if any of you reading this needed to be told that, you should probably just kill yourself.

Keep in mind, I was watching this happen live. I’m literally screaming at the television “DO NOT buy a fucking vowel! If you buy a goddamn vowel, so help me GOD I will…”

“Pat, I’d like to buy a vowel please.”


Son. Of. A. Bitch. This dipshit just bought a vowel. To his credit, he at least picked the right vowel.


So here we are. Back when this genius said “Aviland, New Zealand” did any of you out there suspect HE would be the one to go on and win? Well, he did. Finally, after every single letter had been revealed in what felt like a four hour national nightmare of public education failure, he turned to Pat and, with the absolute least amount of confidence you could imagine, said “Auckland, New Zealand?”

Hallelujah! We have a winner! Fittingly, when Pat Sajak walked over to congratulate this moron, the guy says “I’ve literally never heard of that place.” Well, that’s fine. Have you heard of consonants and vowels and syllables and the English language? Because at some point, very early on, we passed the point where solving this shit required any knowledge of geography at all.

Shockingly, this guy went on to the bonus round and fucking nailed it. The word? T _ _ N S _ _ P.

Yeah, he nailed “township” but couldn’t quite wrap his head around “A _ C K L A N D N E W Z E A L A N D.”

For his troubles, he walked away with over $30,000 in cash and prizes. Meanwhile, at the insurance job I worked at prior to quitting so I could pursue writing full time, my last tax return showed that I made just over $29,000 for the entire year. And I’m calling this guy stupid?

Yes, I am. I would rather be poor than be the guy who thinks all he needs to know about the world is a fucking township.