Pat Sajak Criticized for Recent Joke He Pulled on a ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Contestant

Pat Sajak has been the host of Wheel of Fortune since 1981, when he replaced Chuck Woolery, and has maintained that title for more than 40 years. While he’s one of the most revered game show hosts of all-time, that doesn’t mean he’s perfect. In fact, he’s subject to criticism just like everyone else today. 

That criticism has been coming in bunches recently due to two interactions he had with contestants last week – one of which included a joke Sajak made about a female contestant’s phobia of fish. It all started when he was meeting and learning fun facts about each contestant – as he normally does in the show.

When it was Ashley’s turn to talk, he asked her about her dire fear of fish, also known as ichthyophobia. “You don’t like fish. You don’t like to eat them, you don’t like to swim with them?” he asked the contestant – who replied, “Nothing, nothing at all. If they’re on a plate or in the water, I don’t want to be near them.”

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Interested in learning more about her phobia, Pat Sajak asked Ashley to elaborate on the reason why she hates fish so much – “Were you frightened by a fish as a little girl?” he asked. In hopes of moving on from the question, Ashley said “It’s a long story, Pat. We don’t have time.” They laughed before moving on. 

It wasn’t until the end of the show that Sajak brought her fear of fish back into the equation. Having won the most money in the opening rounds – $23,250 – Sajak was about to go congratulate her, but stopped by one of the other contestants to poke fun at the phobia. Unfortunately, some fans weren’t too fond of it. 

“I have to go congratulate Ashley, can you do me a favor? I don’t want her to see this, just hold onto this,” Pat Sajak said to the other contestant, pulling out a fake fish and handing it to him. Ashley immediately had a disgusted look on her face, but ultimately laughed it off – likely because she just won $20,000+. 

The interaction was posted on Wheel of Fortune’s Instagram account and users quickly shared their opinion. Some of the comments were scolding Sajak for not respecting her phobia, while others were quick to point out that it was a joke – to be fair, he didn’t bring the fake fish anywhere near Ashley. 

“Tonight’s episode was just so wild. The fake fish thing at the end…never have I ever seen Pat pull these kinds of shenanigans,” one user commented, while another one posted, “Give Pat a break !! Humor is all it was.” For the most part, the comments in support of Pat’s humor outweighed those against the host.

This Wasn’t the First Time Pat Sajak Was Criticized Last Week

Just a few days prior to the incident above, Pat Sajak was criticized for yet another encounter he had with a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. While learning fun facts about each of his contestants, he learned that Greg – who looks a lot like Santa Claus – is actually one of Santa’s helpers during the holiday season. 

“I’ve been helping Santa for 25 years,” Greg said, further explaining that he started growing his beard out six years ago to make it look more realistic – adding that it has worked wonders. And since a lot of the kids would ask if he’s the real Santa Claus, he started having kids tug on his beard to confirm it’s not fake.

Naturally, Pat Sajak wanted to have a little fun with the segment – so he asked the gentleman if he could tug on his beard. After receiving permission, Sajak did exactly that. “Oh! I’ve never done that!,” Pat said, adding “And I will never do that again!” It seemed harmless at the time, but social media ran away with it.

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Some users on Instagram were calling the moment ‘cringey’ and ‘awkward,’ but – as you would expect – most of the comments were in support of Sajak. “Pat you are too FUNNY! THANKS to Greg for allowing you to have FUN on the show. How cute,” said one longtime fan.

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