U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris says she’s obsessed with the mega-popular Wordle, has an undefeated record against the New York Times-owned puzzle and sticks with the same start word every time she plays.
Guessing she likes it: In an interview with The Ringer last week, Harris said Wordle, a game that gives players six chances to guess a five-letter word, noting correct letters and positions along the way with a simple color code, is a “brain cleanser” for her and a game she plays before nodding off to sleep or during brief windows in her hectic schedule.
“Wordle, for me, is like a brain cleanser,” Harris told The Ringer. “So it’s in the middle of very long days, back-to-back meetings on a lot of intense issues. If I have a break, let’s say that people are running late or my little 25 minutes for lunch, sometimes while I’m eating I’ll figure out Wordle.”
Harris publicly revealed her love of the game, which was developed by Brooklyn software engineer Josh Wardle and released to the public in October 2021, at a political fundraising event last week.
A first-word purist: Harris told The Ringer she has a 100% win rate with the puzzle (which can track your performance stats for you) though with a schedule that frequently requires 13- or 14-hour days, she isn’t able to play every day. But when she does, Harris said she always starts with the same word: N-O-T-E-S.
“I think that you have to have a healthy mix of consonants and vowels, and a lot of words come with an S,” Harris told The Ringer. “For example, today (from April 15) there was an S and an E, I believe.”
Harris said her average for solving the puzzle is four guesses, but she has had six wins on the second guess. The second gentleman, husband Douglas Emhoff, is also a Wordle devotee, she said.
“He plays Wordle, absolutely,” Harris told The Ringer. “So we will say, ‘How many tries did it take you today?’ ‘How many tries did it take you?’ ‘Did you get it?’ ‘Did you get it?’ Oh yeah, we are definitely checking in every day about Wordle.”
A couple’s thing: While Wordle has become a touchpoint for Harris and her husband, the game’s origin also tracks back to a love duo.
In January of this year, just months after Wardle launched Wordle (get it?), the New York Times announced it had acquired the puzzle in a “low-seven figure deal.” And just weeks before that, the Times ran a feature on Wardle, who talked about the inspiration behind Wordle.
In the Jan. 3 story, Wardle said he first created a similar prototype in 2013, but his friends were unimpressed and he scrapped the idea. In 2020, he and his partner, Palak Shah, “got really into” the New York Times Spelling Bee and the daily crossword, “so I wanted to come up with a game that she would enjoy,” he said.
The breakthrough, Wardle told the Times, was limiting players to one game per day. That enforced a sense of scarcity, which was partially inspired by the Spelling Bee, which leaves people wanting more, he said.
Harris said she appreciates the game’s simple but elegant design.
“I think that the design of Wordle is genius,” Harris told The Ringer. “First of all, five letters, but also only one word a day, right?
“Because, you know, some other games over the years where you could then just get kind of hooked and really spend far too much time. I think it’s really a smart design.”