A Wheel of Fortune contestant missed out on almost $15,000 in cash and prices over a technicality that is dividing viewers.

Last week, Kristen Shaw appeared on the US version of the popular game show – but ended up losing a crossword puzzle challenge despite answering correctly, news.com.au reports.

Shaw and other contestants were tasked with solving four words that all had the word "field" in common.

The correct answers were "right", "football", "left" and "Sally".

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However, while Shaw managed to guess all four words, she did not win the round because she accidentally uttered the word "and" while listing the words, telling host Pat Sajak: "Right, football, left and Sally".

Sajak told Shaw she was incorrect and threw to fellow contestant Bryan Idler, who won the round.

Kristen Shaw solved the puzzle but host Pat Sajak awarded the round to Bryan Idler. Photo / news.com.au
Kristen Shaw solved the puzzle but host Pat Sajak awarded the round to Bryan Idler. Photo / news.com.au

Shaw's three-letter slip up meant she missed out on a US$1950 ($1770) cash prize as well as a holiday to Nashville, valued at US$8000 ($12,500), bringing her total losses to more than $14,270.

"Most times I caution people not to add anything, and you maybe didn't even hear yourself say it, but you threw an 'and' in there with the last thing and we have to go by the rules," Sajak said while explaining Shaw's mistake on-air.

A show spokesperson also explained the controversial decision in an interview with Fox News.

"Our longstanding rule is that in order to have a correct puzzle solve, a contestant must say only what is on the board without adding words," the spokesperson said.

"Contestants are thoroughly briefed prior to the show, and Pat often reminds them of this rule when solving a puzzle in this particular category."

However, the rule is dividing fans of the show on social media, with some calling for it to be amended.

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"Utterly ridiculous that you didn't give credit to Kristen for the ___ field puzzle because she said 'and' before the last word of the list. Functionally no different from the pauses you allow. You know she knew the puzzle. Not cool," one Twitter user posted.

"Sad to see her and others lose because of this rule. Stupid technology!" another added, while another person wrote: "The rule makes me grind my teeth as well!"


But others insisted the rules must be obeyed.

"Rules are in place for a reason and Wheel has been fair to all contestants for years! Don't change a thing," one person wrote, while another said: "And was not part of the solution to the puzzle … the crossword format is not grammatically correct. The contestant was also warned not to add ANY words to her solution."

The furore comes just days after another involving US Wheel of Fortune.

Earlier this month, Sajak was accused of potentially gifting guest Angela Evans thousands of dollars after she asked for a letter that Sajak heard as a "D" – although many viewers were convinced Evans had actually said "B".

After Sajak decided Evans had chosen "D", the contestant went on to solve that round's puzzle, which was "Drinking from a coconut".

She ultimately went home with prizes worth US$19,800.