The Truth About Winning A Trip On Wheel Of Fortune

A lot of us would love the chance to compete on the legendary game show Wheel of Fortune, and winning lots of cash or an awesome trip would really be the icing on the cake. After all, walking away from the experience with winnings is the object of the game, but what if winning Wheel of Fortune wasn’t everything it seemed.

For starters, just doing well on the show is a bit of a challenge. It’s one thing to be able to shout out all the answers from the comfort of your favorite chair at home, but actually doing so on live TV is a whole other beast. Former executive producer Harry Friedman told San Francisco’s ABC7 that half the battle includes being the type of person who already likes to solve problems and puzzles.

Host Pat Sajak added that success on the show really rests with a contestant’s approach. “The trick is just treat it as a fun experience … it doesn’t hurt to watch a show occasionally because there are strategies involved.” And so if one can do all that, and actually win cash, a car, or a trip, what of the victor’s spoils. How much do winning contestants get to actually keep?

Wheel of Fortune winnings are taxed

Many of the prizes on Wheel of Fortune seem almost too good to be true. Contestants regularly win enormous sums of money, expensive cars, and trips around the world. It turns out that there is a reason the prizes might feel unrealistic: winners end up paying taxes on everything they take home from their TV experience.

When you win big on the show, the IRS treats the price tag of your winnings just like income: You’re taxed in a big way. CinemaBlend explored the case of Wheel of Fortune winner Matt McMahan, who walked away with over $16,000 in cash and two trips worth more than $15,000. The show does allow winners to find less expensive versions of their trips to avoid a higher tax hit. McMahan took this option, ending up with trips for $10,000.

Once the taxes were paid out, McMahan estimates he walked away from Wheel of Fortune with about $6,000 out of over $30,000 in prizes. It really makes you think. When speaking to MarketWatch, he did say that the trips were worth it, saying that even with all the strings attached, “experiences are worth more than money right now.”

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