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In the popular game show Wheel of Fortune, contestants spin a wheel and make money based on where it lands; the higher the dollar amount, the more they can make. If contestants land on Bankrupt, though, they lose everything. So how often should the wheel land on each amount…and is it possible that the show is rigged?

In this lesson, students use percents and probabilities to explore whether the show is legit, or whether there might be something shady going on!

Students will

  • Use the Wheel of Fortune wheel to calculate how often each value should come up as a percent (theoretical probability)
  • Watch an episode of Wheel of Fortune to determine how often each value actually came up (experimental probability)
  • Create bar graph comparing theoretical vs. experimental probabilities, and discuss why they may be different
  • Discuss whether results indicate that Wheel of Fortune is rigged
  • Understand that a single episode (27 spins) is insufficient to definitely determine whether show is rigged

Before you begin

Students should be able to calculate a percent given a part and a whole, and explain that this value means "out of 100." Students should also be able to compare quantities by creating a bar graph.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices

Additional Materials

  • Colored pencils (optional)


Wheel of Fortune