Pat Sajak Under Fire After 'Wheel of Fortune' Bit That Poked Fun at a Contestant's Phobia
Is comedy dead?
Legendary game show host Pat Sajak may think so after a largely toothless bit on a recent episode of “Wheel of Fortune” mostly drew condemnation and criticism.
The 76-year-old Sajak was hosting “Wheel of Fortune” last week when he met a contestant named Ashley, who divulged that she suffers from acute ichthyophobia, or, the fear of fish.
For Sajak, this peculiar phobia was rife for needling.
You can see some of Sajak’s humor at play in the clip below:
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“You don’t like fish,” Sajak said to Ashley. “You don’t like to eat them, you don’t like to swim with them?”
“Nothing,” Ashley firmly responded. “[I want] Nothing to do with them, at all. If they’re on a plate or in the water, I am not going to be anywhere near it.”
When Sajak tried to delve a little deeper into this peculiar fear, Ashley was visibly uninterested in playing along.
“Were you frightened by a fish as a little girl?” Sajak asked.
“It’s a long story, Pat,” Ashley said.
“We don’t have time,” she added in a complete deadpan.
Fear of fish or not, Ashley did end up cleaning house in that episode of “Wheel of Fortune,” ultimately taking home $63,000 in winnings after the final round, according to Fox News.
Before that final round, however, Sajak had one last little troll left for Ashley. As the legendary host was preparing to congratulate Ashley for making it to the final round, he produced a fake, plastic fish that he handed to a different contestant so Ashley doesn’t have “to see this.”
Ashley promptly recoiled at the sight of the fake fish.
“Ashley you all right?” Sajak asked. Ashley largely waved that question off as Sajak congratulated Ashley on advancing to the final round of the show.
“You’ll forgive me for that, won’t you?” Sajak added, per Fox News.
“I might,” Ashley responded.
The viral clip garnered reactions from all across the internet, with some people criticizing Sajak’s behavior, while others found it funny.
“The comedy genius of Pat Sajak is… Unparalleled!” one Instagram user wrote.
“I’ve watched wheel of Fortune on a daily basis for most of my life. Tonight’s episode was just so wild. The fake fish thing at the end…never have I ever seen Pat pull these kinds of shenanigans. And you know he likes to be the funny guy,” another user wrote, per Fox.
One Instagram user summed it up: “Naughty Pat.”
“Is he slipping into dementia slowly?? Or does he know he’s retiring soon so he just doesn’t care anymore?” yet another user wrote.
Indeed, perhaps due to his pending retirement, the legendary game show host seems positively unbothered by his critics, many of whom have been more and more vocal lately.
In September 2022, Sajak was labeled a “far-right lunatic” for taking a photo with GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
In April of that year, Sajak was blasted for asking co-host Vanna White if she had ever “watched opera in the buff.”
Just a month before the naked opera question, Sajak was criticized for the way he treated another contestant.
In all those instances, Sajak’s response was largely a non-response, refusing to give credence to his harshest critics.
Given that, it seems unlikely Sajak will get too worked up over his perceived callousness towards ichthyophobians.
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