Travel company bankruptcy causes 'Wheel of Fortune' prize spinout

Turns out that landing on 'bankrupt' isn't the only way to lose on Wheel of Fortune. In this economy, even winning the grand prize means someone can lose.

Promotion Consideration is a group that sets up prizes for the big TV game shows. According to Travel Weekly, a travel trade publication, Promotion Consideration is considering joining a list of companies that want to get some recompense from Joystar/TravelStar, a travel seller that is being forced by creditors to go into liquidation under Chapter 7.

Wheel But No Fortune

    A jeweler inspects a watch at the Nacional Monte de Piedad, the city's non-profit pawn shop, in Mexico City, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009. The store, which opened in 1775, always sees a rise in activity in early January, as Mexicans come to pay for their holiday spending or pawn unwanted gifts for cash. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

    AP

    People wait in line to sell items to the Nacional Monte de Piedad, the city's non-profit pawn shop, as worker inspects a watch in Mexico City, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009. The store, which opened in 1775, always sees a rise in activity in early January, as Mexicans come to pay for their holiday spending or pawn unwanted gifts for cash. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

    AP

    Pawnbroker Levi Touger looks over some jewelry that Marvin and Beverly Hoffman have brought into his Royal Palm Beach Fla., pawn shop on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008. Touger's Royal Pawn & Jewelry has made loans to some of the well-heeled Palm Beach investors caught in the $50 billion Madoff scam, turning his business into a bit of a media sensation. The Hoffmans, who are not involved in the Madoff scheme, are friends of Palm Beach resident Bob Lappin, whose foundation pays to send Jewish youth to Israel. The foundation had to lay off its employees in the wake of the Madoff scandal. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

    AP

    Jordan Tabach-Bank, CEO of Beverly Loan Company, displays some of the valuables his client have left in his upscale Beverly Hills, California pawn shop December 10, 2008. Whether it's a Tiffany diamond or a three-year-old lawnmower, more and more Americans from all social classes are pawning their possessions to make ends meet. Pawn shop owners see strong business across the country, even in unexpected locales like Beverly Hills, the mecca of luxury living and shopping. Picture taken December 10, 2008. To match feature FINANCIAL/PAWNSHOPS REUTERS/Sue Zeidler (UNITED STATES)

    Reuters

    Luxury watches and jewellery are shown on display at Beverly Loan Company, an upscale pawn shop in Beverly Hills, California December 10, 2008. Whether it's a Tiffany diamond or a three-year-old lawnmower, more and more Americans from all social classes are pawning their possessions to make ends meet. Pawn shop owners see strong business across the country, even in unexpected locales like Beverly Hills, the mecca of luxury living and shopping. Picture taken December 10, 2008. To match feature FINANCIAL/PAWNSHOPS REUTERS/Sue Zeidler (UNITED STATES)

    Reuters

    TO GO WITH AFP STORY IN FRENCH BY ELISA SANTAFE A man brings a computer on December 3, 2008 to a store selling second-hand goods in Madrid. Strapped for cash, many Spaniards are resorting to going to pawn shops and second-hand stores to sell unecessary items to tie themselves over. AFP PHOTO/Pedro ARMESTRE. (Photo credit should read PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    TO GO WITH AFP STORY IN FRENCH BY ELISA SANTAFE A man looks on December 3, 2008 through the shelves of a store selling second-hand goods in Madrid. Strapped for cash, many Spaniards are resorting to going to pawn shops and second-hand stores to sell unecessary items to tie themselves over. AFP PHOTO/Pedro ARMESTRE. (Photo credit should read PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    TO GO WITH AFP STORY IN FRENCH BY ELISA SANTAFE A man rearranges on December 3, 2008 the window of a store selling second-hand goods in Madrid. Strapped for cash, many Spaniards are resorting to going to pawn shops and second-hand stores to sell unecessary items to tie themselves over. AFP PHOTO/Pedro ARMESTRE. (Photo credit should read PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    TO GO WITH AFP STORY IN FRENCH BY ELISA SANTAFE People look on December 3, 2008 at the window of a store selling second-hand goods in Madrid. Strapped for cash, many Spaniards are resorting to going to pawn shops and second-hand stores to sell unecessary items to tie themselves over. AFP PHOTO/Pedro ARMESTRE. (Photo credit should read PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    TO GO WITH AFP STORY IN FRENCH BY ELISA SANTAFE A man exits on December 3, 2008 a store selling second-hand goods in Madrid. Strapped for cash, many Spaniards are resorting to going to pawn shops and second-hand stores to sell unecessary items to tie themselves over. AFP PHOTO/Pedro ARMESTRE. (Photo credit should read PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

In August 2007, Joystar's sister company VacationCompare.com made a deal to be the host travel agency for Wheel's 25th anniversary season so that it could harness those 13 million sets of eyeballs that tune in nightly. Travel Weekly reports that Promotion Consideration says the prizes were never delivered, forcing the company to go out-of-pocket to make sure winning contestants got their trips.

TV game show prizes are not always directly funded out of advertising income, and rarely are they orchestrated by the producers themselves. As Wheel's predicament illustrates, fulfillment of those awards often goes through a web of connections and partnerships. In some cases of shows with extremely high payouts that are not often awarded, the jackpot may even be funded (at least in part) by an insurance company.
Fortunately for the winners, ethics and the prevailing rules are solidly against failing to hand over prizes, or at least an agreed-upon equivalent. Shows can get in a heap of trouble with the federal government if they default. Last September, the equivalent prize problem belonged to CBS's Big Brother, which awarded runner-up Memphis a 1969 Camaro it didn't actually have the title to. Despite the fact the contestant won the vehicle in a lavish televised competition, viewers weren't told the car wasn't his after all. Off camera, Memphis ended up agreeing to take a check instead.

If the prize is promised, then it (or something very similar) has to be handed over if it was won fair and square. But as partnerships and insurance companies sour, shows will increasingly find themselves holding the poke to make sure those promised prizes are delivered.

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