Wheel of Fortune Rules

By Kim Nunley

Updated September 22, 2017

Pat Sajak and Vanna White are hosts of
i Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The Wheel of Fortune television game show features three contestants who compete to solve word puzzles. The goal is to amass the most money and prizes by solving word puzzles after multiple rounds. A large carnival wheel, spun by each contestant in turns, denotes dollar amounts or prizes awarded for correctly suggesting a letter within the word puzzle.

Basics of the Game

In Wheel of Fortune, three contestants compete during three rounds to solve hangman-type word puzzles. At the beginning of each round, contestants are given a category such as a phrase, person, place or object that consists of blank spaces they must fill in with the correct letters. After random selection to see who begins, contestants take turns to either spin the carnival wheel and guess a consonant, buy vowels from their earned winnings or solve the puzzle. At the end of three rounds, the contestant with the most cash and prizes becomes the winner and moves to the game's bonus round.

Wheel Spin Prizes

In addition to the dollar amount wedges on the carnival wheel, some wedges indicate specific prizes or special game elements. For example, in some rounds the wheel contains two 1/2-car wedges, which when both collected, result in that contestant winning a new car if they go on to solve that particular puzzle. Other special game elements include the million-dollar wedge, which awards a player $1 million if they correctly solve the puzzle, the free-play wedge, which allows contestants one extra play to buy a vowel for free, call a consonant letter or solve the puzzle. The wild-card wedge allows the contestant to call an additional consonant in either the regular or bonus rounds. The wheel also includes bankrupt or lose-a-turn wedges, resulting in the loss of all earnings to that point, or the player loses a turn at the wheel and the puzzle.

Toss-up Rounds

Every game of Wheel of Fortune also includes tossup rounds. During the tossup round, the board reveals letters one-by-one. Contestants compete to see who can ring in and correctly solve the puzzle first. If a contestant guesses wrong, he is out of that round and the remaining contestants can either immediately guess or allow the board to continue revealing letters. Tossup puzzles have values of $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000 at the time of publication.

Bonus Round

The winning contestant goes on to participate in the bonus round. He spins a smaller wheel that contains 24 envelopes -- each hiding a particular prize. The contestant must solve the puzzle after the letters R, S, T, L, N and E have populated the spaces where they appear in the phrase, person, place or object's name. After that, the contestant selects three additional consonants and a single vowel. When the contestant guesses the right consonants and vowel, the selected letters are revealed, after which the contestant has 10 seconds to solve the puzzle. If he wins, he receives the prize denoted by the envelope he spun for at the beginning of the round.