'Wheel of Fortune', premiering on 6 January, 1975, is arguably the world's most popular game show. It involves three contestants spinning a large wheel, and landing on a 'fortune'. This can include a money value - ranging from about 100 dollars to thousands of dollars. It could also be a bad fortune - such as a Bankrupt place on the wheel that takes away all of the contestant's money.
Assuming a contestant does not land on an unfortunate place on the wheel that takes away their turn, he or she gets to guess a consonant, hoping it will be among one of several unknown letters on a board. For every consonant that is on the board, the contestant gets as many times the money value that they landed on.
There is also a process of 'buying' vowels, which costs 250 dollars (it has not risen with inflation since 1975) for each vowel on the board. As such, the phrase 'I'd like to buy a vowel' is a popular expression, especially among Americans.
Once a contestant believes that he or she has uncovered enough vowels and consonants to figure out what the words that the letters combine are, he or she may 'solve the puzzle'. If the guess is correct, he earns the money that he has accrued since the beginning of the round. The others do not. However, there are several rounds in one show, and the overall winner moves on to a much more complicated way of earning money by solving word puzzles.
'Wheel of Fortune' was created by Merv Griffin, and was hosted by Chuck Woolery from its premier until 1981 and by Pat Sajak since then.