Wheel Of Fortune
Wheel of Fortune YouTubeCredit: Wheel of Fortune YouTube

The $8,000 prize is prompting a discussion on social media about how amounts for Wheel of Fortune contestants have changed over the years.

Wheel of Fortune, the hit game show that first aired in 1975, is celebrating its 8,000th episode this week.

“Big Money Week,” as it is being hailed, began Monday and will run until Friday. During that time, BetMGM is helping the show celebrate with not only contestants, but the fans at home.

Sweepstake Fanatics notes that five winners this week have a chance to win $8,000 cash with an opportunity to win more money with every spin of the famous wheel. The winnings partially hinge on a contestant’s actions during gameplay.

Additionally, the contestants themselves have a chance to win a Nightly Progressive Jackpot by solving a bonus puzzle sponsored by BetMGM. That amount may be added to their winnings at the end of the night.

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Wheel Of Fortune Prize Money

All of these crazy amounts prompted a conversation on social media about how the prize money on Wheel of Fortune has evolved.

In the early days, the top prize was limited to $25,000. This restriction was in place due to network regulations and concerns over the quiz show scandals of the 1950s.

Additionally, the game show also had a “shopping round” for contestants. It would involve them putting their winnings either on a gift card or an account. They would then use this account to purchase “prize showcases.”

Imagine winning big money and having to shop with it on the spot!

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What Are Contestants Winning Now?

Fast forward to today, and the landscape of Wheel of Fortune has changed dramatically. The top prize on the show is no longer limited to $25,000.

Instead, contestants have the potential to win much more. In 2008, the show increased its top prize to $1,000,000 (via a wedge piece that then must be won in the bonus round). It was the second syndicated game show to do so.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, naturally, was the first.

To date, three contestants have won Wheel’s million-dollar prize. The show even had one celebrity earn the $1,000,000 – Melissa Joan Hart.

The changes reflect the evolution of the show and the game show industry as a whole, with higher stakes and bigger rewards for contestants.

But it is also interesting to note that such large prizes on Wheel of Fortune are almost wholly dependent on that special million-dollar wedge.

According to a representative for Sony Pictures Entertainment, the winner’s purse “rarely exceeds more than $90,000.”

As Wheel of Fortune continues to spin its way into the future, it will be interesting to see how the show and its prizes continue to evolve.

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