Pat Sajak Urges 'Wheel of Fortune' Viewers to 'Have a Little Heart' After Online Ridicule of Recent Mistake

Three contestants struggled to solve a common idiom on Tuesday's show, leading to online criticism.

Pat Sajak wants Wheel of Fortune viewers to show some compassion. The 75-year-old longtime host of the popular game show took to Twitter on Wednesday after a moment in Tuesday's show went viral. 

Three contestants on the episode -- Laura, Christopher, and Thomas -- all tried to solve a nearly complete puzzle, the answer to which was the popular idiom, "Another feather in your cap." 

After Laura guessed, "Another feather in your hat," all three hopefuls struggled to complete the puzzle properly, trying "map" and "lap," until Thomas finally got the right answer. 

The moment garnered lots of criticism and online ridicule, with many calling it a "fail" and @TodayInSports calling it the "worst two minutes in the history of Wheel of Fortune."

Sajak quickly came to the contestants' defense, tweeting, "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."

Specifically calling out the "feather in your cap" puzzle, Sajak added, "Sitting at home, it seems incredible that they couldn’t solve it, but I knew in real time what was happening."

He noted that a lot of people incorrectly use the phrase, "feather in your hat" and said the contestants were "stunned" when the guess was wrong. 

"Now imagine you’re on national TV, and you’re suddenly thrown a curve and you begin getting worried about looking stupid, and if the feather isn’t in your hat, where the heck can it be? You start flailing away looking for alternatives rather than synonyms for 'hat,'" he explained. "And, of course, when it’s solved, you want to crawl in a hole. I’ve been praised online for 'keeping it together' and not making fun of the players. Truth is, all I want to do is help to get them through it and convince them that those things happen even to very bright people."

Sajak added that viewers "can't begin to appreciate" the stress the contestants are under, and urged critics to be a bit more understanding. 

"I have fun with players and I tease them occasionally, but when things go wrong, I feel for them, and I try to salve the wounds on camera and off. So, yeah, it was an oddly entertaining puzzle and it’s okay to laugh at the situation. But have a little heart," he wrote. "After all, you may be there one day. And no one wants to be trending on Twitter."

For more on Wheel of Fortune, watch the clip below.