Merritt Island woman's 'Wheel of Fortune' mispronunciation goes viral

Woman loses $4K, chance at bonus round over carol song

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – A Merritt Island native's mispronunciation of "Seven swans a swimming" on the "Wheel of Fortune," costing her a chance at the bonus round and $4,000 has gone viral with many arguing she should have advanced.

Local 6 spoke to Renee Durette, who said on Wednesday's "Wheel of Fortune," she declared she was ready to solve a puzzle based on a lyric from "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Then she confidently stated the winning phrase to host Pat Sajak:

"Seven swans a-swimmin'."

Vanna White's letter board displayed a glowing "g" at the end of the last word. After an awkward pause, Sajak declared that Durette's response was incorrect because she "kind of did it in the vernacular and left off the g" in "swimming."

This decision cost her $3,850. By the end of the opening round, the winning contestant finished with $11,400. Durette had $8,200 — a $3,200 difference.

"I left the 'g' off in speaking in a vernacular, and so they have to protect against regional dialects, and so I should've been more straight-lined in my annunciation of the phrase," said Durette.

Durette graduated from Melbourne Central Catholic in 1999, according to Florida Today.  She got to keep the $8,200, and she hosted a Wednesday viewing party at her home. Durette said she plans on spending the money on her family.

Video of Wednesday's show went viral, sparking an outcry.

Fans took to Twitter and other social media sites to complain about the ruling and to ask "Wheel" to give Durette a second chance. However, former "Wheel" contestants are also speaking out, saying that players are warned before show tapings that answers must be read exactly as they appear on the puzzle board to be ruled correct. And the show has said the answer was illegal as it was spoken in vernacular.

"It's just been so insane. I mean, a small local girl from Merritt Island is all over the internet," said Durette.

The Dec. 20 episode featured another pronunciation issue when contestant Michael Rufus won $4,600 with "Hickory-Smoked Country Ham." Yet when he says the phrase, he appears to miss the letter "D" in the word "smoked."

"Wheel" has not commented on the Michael Rufus ruling.