Every syndicated game show seems ridiculously easy, when you're sitting on your own couch, shouting "WHAT IS THE VERNAL EQUINOX?" or buying imaginary vowels through a mouthful of French fries. But when you're an actual contestant, standing underneath several rows of hot studio lights, wearing an all-caps nametag, and listening to murmurs from the studio audience, it can be hard—really hard!—to collect your thoughts.
Whether you're trying to get the timing right on your Jeopardy! buzzer, or assembling half-formed word puzzles in your head, it's so much harder than you ever could've imagined when you were playing along at home.
That's why everyone has to lowkey feel bad for Marle'ta Robinson. On Thursday night, the Detroit woman and her best friend of 15 years, Nancy Krol, were a two-person contestant team for Wheel of Fortune's "Girlfriend Getaways" week.
During the express round, they were given a puzzle that fit the category "Living Things." The letters that Vanna White had already turned around spelled out "E _ _TIC - AND - C _ L _ R _ _ L - BIRDS," and when it was Robinson's turn to select the next consonant she went with… Q.
She asked for a damn Q.
"There is no Q," host Pat Sajak said flatly, before calling on the next contestants, Pauline Fillipou and Emily Newton. Surprisingly, the North Carolina pair didn't ask for an X, or shout for an umlaut, they just solved the puzzle, which was "EXOTIC AND COLORFUL BIRDS."
Due to Robinson's literal mis-Q, she and Krol lost out on an $11,000 trip to Costa Rica, and they didn't advance to the show's bonus round, either. "You know you can find a lot of those [birds] in Costa Rica," Sajak said, twisting the knife. Or the qnife.
That's when the people at home who didn't suggest a Q started dunking on the two of them. "YALL COULDA WENT TO COSTA RICA BUT YA DUMBASS SAID Q!?" one woman tweeted.
"The only time you would guess 'Q' is a when blood vessel bursts in your brain and it’s the last thing you say before you collapse and die," a Wheel-focused account wrote. (And YouTube conspiracy theorist and occasional bleach-drinker Jordan Sather is one of a ridiculous number of people who have implied that Robinson's letter selection was a shoutout to QAnon, which is quite possibly the only thing dumber than trying to wedge a Q into the word 'colorful.')
Wheel of Fortune contestants only have a few seconds to call for a letter or to solve a puzzle, which is probably why the show provides so many gloriously ridiculous moments. Last month, a contestant was faced with a two-word puzzle in the show's Bonus Round, and given the category "What Are You Doing?"
After automatically being given six letters, and choosing another four of her own," Marie Leo was left with a puzzle that said "_____NG _A__." After staring at the board for a few seconds, she guessed "CHASING TAIL?" (The answer was "KICKING BACK," but that's nowhere near as good.)
Last night, Robinson and Krol still left with $7,300 in prize money, despite their weird-ass choice of consonants. "It was an honest mistake," Robinson tweeted to one armchair analyst. "How about you audition for the show, get picked to be a contestant and then win. I'm still a winner. Good day."