Pat Sajak is facing backlash following Monday’s newest episode of Wheel of Fortune, during which he appeared to mock a contestant with a speech impediment. The incident occurred during the first minutes of the show as Sajak introduced the players, including contestant Chris Brimble, who has a lisp.
Introducing himself to the long-time host as well as viewers, Brimble said that he works for a company that sells “technology that benefits older adults,” prompting Sajak to ask if it is “a myth” that older adults are resistant to new technology. Brimble responded by stating, “You’d be surprised how open they are,” with Sajak replying, “Ah, I thee,” instead of “I see,” seemingly mocking Brimble’s lisp.
— phil (@nicolegphil) February 23, 2021
Although Brimble laughed the moment off and focused on the game, viewers tuning in from home weren’t quite as willing to move past the incident, with many taking to Twitter to criticize Sajak. Some used the “[Pat Sajak Sucks]” hashtag to slam the host, with one person tweeting, “How snide are you if you make fun of someone with a lisp. I mean really?” Somebody else expressed hope that Sajak would learn “by your mistake and stop making fun of those with a lisp.”
Several people even went as far as to call on Sajak to quit the show, with one person writing, “thanks for making fun of people with a lisp on tonight’s show you arrogant overpaid jerk – Pat Sajak. Quit now. Maybe if you grew up with a speech impediment you’d understand.” Another person called Sajak a “d–bag,” writing that it was “a cheap shot making fun of a contestant with a lisp.” That same person said Sajak has “been on the air for far too long. It’s time for you to retire. Your sarcasm is offensive and only funny to idiots such as yourself.”
As someone your age, who grew up with hearing impaired cousins, I was taught that we NEVER made fun of their speech pattern. To this day I wouldn't even think of doing what you did so don't get on your "exemplary" high horse about it. You were 100% wrong. Own it and DO BETTER!
— Joe Cantito (@joecant9) February 23, 2021
At this time, Sajak has not addressed the controversy. Brimble, meanwhile, went on to earn $12,250 in prize money, though he fell just short of advancing to the bonus puzzle, according to Yahoo Entertainment.
The incident marked just the latest to spark criticism for Sajak, who has hosted Wheel of Fortune since 1983. In December, he was criticized after he chastised a contestant who interrupted him during a sponsor plug. A month earlier, he faced backlash after he called a contestant “ungrateful,” a remark he apologized for later in the episode.