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."
The first attempted solve was “Feather in your hat” which, by the way, is how a lot of people say it. So all three players thought it was a good solve, and were stunned when I said it was wrong.
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.