Shaw, 26, of Bangor, Maine, was a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune” during an episode that was taped back in October. On the show’s second puzzle, she had a chance for an easy win. Nearly ever letter on the board had already been filled in.
All Shaw had to do was correctly read four words — right, football, left, Sally — and she would get a free trip to Nashville.
“Right, football, left and Sally,” she said.
A buzzer blared. The host, Pat Sajak, apologized. Somehow, Shaw was wrong.
Shaw lost the puzzle due to “Wheel of Fortune” rules that require her to recite the answer and only the answer. Her response was deemed incorrect because she said “and” while listing off the four words, adding a word that wasn’t part of the puzzle.
Shaw knew this rule but forgot it in a rush of excitement. The mistake cost her $1,950 and a trip to Nashville worth more than $8,000.
“It was probably one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life,” Shaw said. “And I knew that in about a month, almost everyone in America would see it.”
Shaw was right. When her episode finally aired on Thursday, her strange mistake quickly became a viral news story. Shaw said her Facebook page was flooded with supportive messages from many viewers who felt she had been robbed.
But the most surprising message came from Nashville.
L.J. Whalen, one of the directors of Adventureworks, a Nashville-based tourism company, had decided to make things right. After discovering the technicality had erased Shaw’s vacation to Nashville, Whalen recruited local hospitality companies to give her a new prize.
The gift includes plane tickets, hotel accommodations and tickets to the Grand Ole Opry, according to a news release.
“Our hospitality community is so close-knit, and we’d love to show Ms. Shaw and the nation that we’re a lot more than boot stomping and beer drinking. This is what we do here in Nashville. We give second chances,” Whalen said in the release. “AND we are not going to make you solve a puzzle to claim it.”
Shaw plans to visit Nashville with her mother soon but they haven’t picked a date yet.
“I was honestly so shocked I was almost speechless,” she said. “There is a lot of negativity in this world, but this shows me we are all human, we make mistakes, and for someone to want to give me a second chance, it just blew me away.”