Wheel Of Fortune has been a favorite game show since it premiered in 1975. The typically harmless show is hosted by Pat Sajak and Vanna White and offers contestants the opportunity to win money and prizes for solving hidden phrases.
Unfortunately, a major snafu occurred on the June 15 episode of Wheel of Fortune. During a segment on its “Southern Charm” themed week, Twitter user Joshua Itiola noticed that the image behind Sajak and White depicted two Black women dressed as slaves in front of a plantation. Itiola tweeted his disgust by saying, “Someone please tell me why @WheelofFortune has slaves in their “Southern Charm Week” images?”
— Josh Itiola (@joshitiola) June 16, 2017
Black Twitter caught on immediately and Itiola’s tweet garnered nearly 3,600 retweets and more than 5,000 likes. Entertainment Weekly is reporting that the image was taken from footage shot on location in 2005 for a New Orleans episode of Wheel. It was filmed at the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, La. The women in the image were actually working as tour guides at the time. Hillary Loeber, a plantation spokeswoman, told New York Daily News that they do not have actors depicting slaves. However, tour guides do wear period clothing while on site.
Still, this statement was not enough to stop the firestorm of criticism that was being thrown at the classic game show.
Since the public outcry, Wheel of Fortune executive producer Harry Friedman has released a statement to EW saying, “We regret the use of this background image, and we will be replacing it moving forward on any rebroadcast.”