Off-Day Offerings: Wheel of Fortune Epic Fail

Off-Day Offerings: Wheel of Fortune Epic Fail

Cubs fans are used to seeing the wheels fall off. We're used to miscues and misuse. And for those who reveled in the broadcasts of the immortal Harry Caray, we're used to mispronunciations as well. Maybe that's why I felt a familiar mixture of anger, incredulity, and, to be honest, kinship with Julian Batts.

Of course, that could also be due to the fact that I'm a native Hoosier and an IU fan. But let's stick with the Cubs narrative, it plays better. If you want to bypass my breakdown and get straight to the video, it's embedded below. But if you're interested in my snappy repartee then, by all means, read on.

The name might not right a bell, but you have likely seen or heard of the Indiana University student's viral Wheel of Fortune epic fail not too long ago. The young man stumbled not once, not twice, but three separate times in the face of gift-wrapped puzzles. To make matters worse, the prizes on the line in each instance were less than small.

As a matter of fact, Batts had actually landed on the $1,000,000 section of the Wheel, a small sliver wedged in the middle third of a Bankrupt panel. Tasked with simply reading the completely-filled puzzle, the contestant showed that the pronunciation of Greek names is more of a trouble spot for him than is his heel.

Yes, the board was devoid of blanks, reading: MYTHOLOGICAL HERO ACHILLES. Just read the phrase and you win $1MM. That's it. "Mythological Hero Ay-Chill-Us," Batts stated with phonetically-accurate confidence, begetting a pregnant pause from Pat Sajak.

Guh. So the young Aggie co-ed to Batts's left solved the puzzle and won the round, but the game wasn't over. In a subsequent round, the Hoosier actually picked up two halves of a car, which meant that he'd have won a Chevy Sonic for correctly solving "THE WORLD'S FASTEST _A_"

Usain Bolt certainly would have known the correct answer, but Julian Batts, likely flooded with thoughts of his potential prize, slipped on Freud and asked for a "C." Wah-wah. Again, the Texas A&M student beside him was the fortunate recipient of his error.

Because of the pressure of the situation and the fact that he was about to win a car, I can sort of understand this mistake. Even though the "R" was already up on the board, thus eliminating "CAR" as a possibility for the final word. Still, this is a little less egregious than the first one.

But the third and final puzzle Batts goofed up will forever live in infamy and has since spawned a fake word that I plan to use in perpetuity.

Facing a board reading "_N - TH_ - SP_T  D_C_S__N," and with a chance for redemption staring him in the face, Julian Batts blurted out "On-the-spot dicespin."

Dicespin? Dicespine?!

I...I can't...just...huh? That's not a word; it's not even a slang term from Urban Dictionary (yet). I suppose, however, that it could be Greek for "derp." Of course, if that were the case, he'd probably have mispronounced it anyway.

This is like a real-life version of SNL's Celebrity Jeopardy, just without Sean Connery or Turd Ferguson. If only Batts had had the chance to solve "AN ALBUM COVER."

But despite the grammatical gaffes, there is a silver lining to this tale of Wheel woe: Batts actually went on to win the game, proving that there is still hope despite repeated instances of abject failure. Can the Cubs follow the Julian Batts model and emerge victorious from laughingstock status? Sure, why not.

As long as Epstoyer continues to make good dicespins with draft picks and player development and the team's business and baseball efforts dovetail a bit more firmly, there's no reason to believe they won't be able to win. Of course, having that extra million dollars sure would be nice when it comes to free agents and/or the international signing pool.

Follow me on Twitter: @DEvanAltman

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Filed under: Pop Culture


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  • First, it was someone from IU not Purdue (which, for some reason isn't known as PU, although there is IUPUI).

    And probably the more Cubs moment is being advertised on ABC, to the effect that some woman on disability for a shoulder injury was able to pull the big wheel on the Price is Right.

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    In reply to jack:

    I think you're making a jab at IU, but the way it's written actually comes off as though I wrote that it was a Purdue student. And while it's not known as PU (I'm assuming the connotation of something stinky is to blame for the non-use), those initials are present on the school-themed license plates.

    IUPUI's campus is growing really rapidly and is really big for a satellite school; still not as large as either of its estranged parents, but closer than one might think. Purdue has an enrollment of around 39K, IU has 42K, and IUPUI is about 30.5K.

    If I'm not mistaken, and Lord knows I could very well be, I believe the only satellite campus that's larger than its parent is UCLA (Univ of California at Berkeley being the original).

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    I only noted that he was wearing an IU sweatshirt in the video.

    The reference was to some cartoon school named Pennington U, good old PU (followed by a foghorn sound effect).

    The only Purdue extension I follow is Purdue Calumet, although I told some guidance counselor who sent my application there--heck no, I mean West Lafayette. If I had any premonition that electronics would be the wave of the future, I should have gone there.

    On the other hand, the only people I knew at IU at that time distinguished themselves by belonging to this or that drinking fraternity.

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    You know, the more I think about it, the more I think this kid pulled off one of the greatest trolls of all time. He was a great student in HS, had lots of academic scholarship offers (hearsay, but somewhat reliable), and I think he pulled this off in order for the publicity. Think about it: do you ever hear about someone who won WoF in normal fashion? Of course not.

    He would have had no clue that he'd have gotten the $1MM prize or car or whatever and you've got to win the whole thing to keep those, right? So you can't guarantee that you'll win the show, but you CAN guarantee that you'll lose. And if you lose in epic fail fashion, you become a star overnight, someone capable of commanding appearance fees. Someone whose Twitter following ballooned to 25K virtually overnight.

    This is like The Prestige or something. Dude was willing to sacrifice his dignity for infamy. I don't know whether he'd cop to it, but I find it easier to believe that he threw the match, so to speak, than that he couldn't pronounce a commonly-known name or that he totally made up a word.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    The puzzles and the prize rules became too complicated for me after Merv sold out. Before that, my father said "the reason they have to shop at the end of each round or get a Van Cleef and Arpels gift certificate is because Merv is cheap."

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