'Wheel of Fortune' contestant explains risqué viral answer: 'Hopefully everybody got a kick out of it'

FILE-The Wheel of Fortune wheel is shown in an episode of the game show. (Christopher Willard via Getty Images)

When "Wheel of Fortune" contestant Tavaris Williams gave his now-viral answer to a puzzle, even he was surprised by what he said.

"I tried to just beat my contestants by buzzing in first and letting my brain catch up," Williams told Fox News Digital. 

"And when my brain was ready to speak, I saw the R, I saw the B, I saw the T. I went for ‘Right in the butt’… And once [host Pat Sajak] said ‘no,’ oh, it was the worst feeling," he continued with a laugh.

Williams went viral last week during his May 23 appearance on the game show when he answered the first toss-up puzzle with that NSFW response.


Host Vanna White was at the puzzle board as the letters for the phrase were revealed, reading, "_ _ _ _ /I _ /T _ E /B _ _ T!"

Williams quickly buzzed in and confidently said, "Right in the butt."

His answer was met with a brief silence, then audience laughter, followed by a "What?" from fellow contestant Tyra, and a definitive "no" from Sajak as a look of utter surprise crossed Williams' face.

The correct answer was "T H I S / I S / T H E / B E S T !"


FILE-Pat Sajak and Vanna White appear in episode of "Celebrity Wheel of Fortune." (Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty Images)


"None of those common sense [thoughts like], ‘Well, there wasn't enough letters for the word "right"’ [or] ‘This is a family show.’ None of that is going through your head when you have 50 monitors above you, the lights are extra bright, there are 100 stagehands, there’s producers, there’s sound guys," he said. 

Williams added, "And I was standing next to Pat, so I had to say something. I wasn't going to get buzzed without saying something. And the rest is history."

After the puzzle, Williams said they took a break from filming, and that’s when Sajak, whom he called "spectacular," did his best to support him.

"So right then and there he tried to make me feel better and move on, but they immediately cut to break. And in the break, Pat was very gracious and he was very supportive and said, ‘Oh, you made a name for yourself. We're going to see how we can edit that tastefully. I don't know how, but we'll figure it out.’ He was very accommodating, and he made me feel great throughout the process after that. He's truly amazing," he said. 

Williams also said White is "amazing" and had praise for the producers behind the scenes, even though he realized his answer made their day a little trickier.


"They are consummate professionals. I may have exchanged a couple of glances, and I got a ‘He's going to make us work today' look. But they were great. They were gracious. They've seen it all before. They may not have been expecting that. But, you know, they allowed me to continue with the show and, hopefully, everybody got a kick out of it," he said.

Williams is a father of two boys, Kevin and Riley, with his "ultra supportive" wife of 19 years, Anesha. He told Fox News Digital he gave her a heads-up about his controversial answer, but otherwise had to keep the secret to himself until the episode aired.

"You can't share the results of your episode until it airs. I shot in early April, it aired late May, so I literally just had to sit on the entire show and that answer and then not knowing how or what would be edited for almost a month. So, out of sight, out of mind," Williams said. "And the funny part, to me, is I definitely didn't know I made that face. The face gets me every time I look at [it]!"

He continued, "I have a wonderful family. I have tremendous friends, coworkers. Everyone has been great. Everybody is joining in the fun with me. You have to be able to laugh and smile at yourself from time to time. No one has been negative or critical, and they know where my heart is."

"I have never in my life said those words in sequential order before the show. I picked a great time to start," Williams added with a laugh.

— Tavaris Williams

Williams’ family were gathered to watch the moment live.

"We had a watch party and the room erupted in laughter. They couldn't believe it, and just the eye contact alone with everybody made them laugh again," he said with a chuckle.

No one was judgmental, but his answer was definitely met with confusion. 

"They were all fine. It's more so, the younger kids are like, ‘What did you say? Why did you say that?,’ he explained. "The older kids are like, ‘I can't believe you said that.’ And the adults are like, ‘Tavaris, how?’"


"My wife's like, ‘I’m married to a meme now,'" he added, saying that although his family has been supportive, "My oldest son, he did say that it might be a tough day at school tomorrow. I was like, ‘I'm so sorry.’ But everybody has been great. We're just enjoying the ride."

Becoming the face of a viral moment can have its pitfalls, but Williams credits his family’s annual Memorial Day weekend trip with being "a great distraction. Could you imagine if I didn't have that? So I had a buffer from all of the social media goings on."

And while the Florida-born and -raised contract manager for a child welfare agency hasn’t been recognized in public yet as "that guy from ‘Wheel of Fortune,’" he’s happy to share his moment to boost someone’s mood if he can. 

"It's allowing people to laugh and take a moment of levity and just enjoy life a little bit. So, when I meet somebody who is either extremely helpful or it looks like they're having a hard day, I'll ask them, ‘Hey, you want to smile right quick? Google Tavaris Williams, ‘Wheel of Fortune.’ And while I'm walking off, they'll go, ‘That guy!’ [and I] put a smile on that person's face."

Williams’ positivity is clearly what earned him a spot on the show.

For the audition process, he first went through a "personality interview" and then competed against other potential contestants, followed by a long wait while he practiced at home.

"My boys were egging me on to go on the show because I do so well around the house," he explained. "I was fine with it at that point. You know, I made it to the interview process, but then they called me and asked me to come on the show the following week. I said, ‘Okay, let me move some things around!’"

Williams did walk away with $9,500, but almost as soon as the moment aired, fans took to social media to have a good laugh about the risqué answer.


"Will this end up being the most-viewed Wheel of Fortune clip of all time?" one asked.

"He just became a part of Wheel of Fortune history in a clip that will be played for eternity," said another.

"The greatest wrong answer in ‘Wheel of Fortune’ history (and maybe game show history, period)" a third declared.

"Wheel of Fortune" shared the clip on its social media as well, adding to the chorus of reactions.

And Williams has completely embraced his now-viral infamy.

"It has been a truly amazing, fantastic ride," he said. "I appreciate all the swag that comes my way from this experience. It is just amazing. It is just a reminder of that one moment where I put a smile on everyone's face, loving life." 

Fox News Digital's Caroline Thayer contributed to this report.

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