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Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak has been under fire this week online after he was accused of making a joke out of a contestant’s speech impediment in his latest show.
The longtime host faced criticism online following an interaction with one contestant named Chris Brimble which occurred during Monday’s episode, reports said.
During the friendly chat with the contestant, who speaks with a slight lisp, Sajak concluded the brief interview by saying "I thee" instead of "I see."
Mr Brimble casually laughed the moment off alongside a few chuckles from the audience, however, some viewers said the apparent joke was made in bad taste.
"Did @patsajak just mock one of the contestants??" one user wrote alongside a clip of the interaction.
Some users called for a public apology from the host while others urged him to retire from his position altogether.
A few Twitter users shared their experiences of living with speech impediments, saying they have faced similar jibes at their expense in the past.
“Thanks for making fun of people with a lisp on tonight’s show you arrogant overpaid jerk - Pat Sajak,” one user said.
He added: “Quit now. Maybe if you grew up with a speech impediment you’d understand.”
Another person shared: “My husband has a lisp and he would never, EVER make fun of anyone with any kind of speech impediment or make fun of anyone at all.”
“How nice for those not born with a cleft lip and palate and a permanent lisp. I am glad you did not and do not know the ‘teasing’ that I have had to politely accept my whole life,” another added.
One user said that “As someone your age, who grew up with hearing impaired cousins, I was taught that we NEVER made fun of their speech pattern.”
They added: “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 per cent wrong. Own it and DO BETTER!”
In defence of Sajak, some users claimed the host was being made a victim of “cancel culture”, arguing that the moment was either meant as a light-hearted joke or was accidental.
However, some didn’t buy this as an excuse to shirk accountability, with one user saying: “Yes, you clearly made a mistake. You made fun of a man with a lisp without giving it a thought first. Sometimes it just takes a mistake to realise it is time to move on.”
According to Yahoo Entertainment, Mr Brimble went on to earn $12,250 in prize money but fell just short of advancing onto the bonus puzzle and earning the win.
Wheel of Fortune did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent.