Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak signs off after 41 seasons

Final spin: Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak signs off after 41 seasons

The longest-serving TV game show host in history signed off on Friday (Jun 7) after presiding over US primetime hit Wheel of Fortune for 41 seasons.

Pat Sajak has been a fixture in American homes since 1981, hosting more than 8,000 editions of a show that has become part of early evenings for millions of households. "Well, the time has come to say goodbye," he told viewers in a clip from the pre-recorded final show.

"It's been an incredible privilege to be invited into millions of homes night after night, year after year, decade after decade." He described the half-hour show as "a safe place for family fun. No social issues, no politics, nothing embarrassing I hope - just a game." "Thank you for allowing me into your lives."

Pat Sajak's Last Episode of Wheel of Fortune

Highlights from Pat Sajak's last new episode of Wheel of Fortune, taped on April 5, 2024, aired on June 7th. He will continue via summer reruns until Ryan Seacrest replaces him next season.

Vanna White will continue in her position as letter toucher.

The entire episode was recorded off of WHIO in Dayton, Ohio via YouTube TV, and his speech was recorded off of WCCO in Minneapolis because of a satellite error from WHIO.

A Winning Pair! Throwback Photos of Pat Sajak and Wife Lesly Brown as He Signs Off from Wheel of Fortune
The longtime host and his wife don't step out together often, though she's been by his side for many major milestones

"I knew she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with," Pat Sajak once told PEOPLE of wife Lesly Brown.

The two met through mutual friends in 1988, though their relationship didn't turn romantic until Brown, a model, appeared on The Dating Show and made a match. "Frankly, I was a little annoyed at that," Sajak told PEOPLE, with Brown adding, "There was definitely borderline jealousy. That was good." By 1989 the pair was engaged, marrying later that year in a ceremony attended by Sajak's Wheel of Fortune costar Vanna White. Since then, the couple has kept much of their relationship and family life out of the spotlight.

Here, as Sajak signs off from Wheel for the final time, take a look back at his rare moments in the limelight with wife Brown.

What Pat Sajak said about ‘professional other half’ Vanna White during his last ‘Wheel of Fortune’ show

Pat Sajak wants everyone to know how lucky he feels to have hosted “Wheel of Fortune.” Sajak's final episode aired June 7, and he shared some words for all the fans and viewers who have tuned in over the years in a farewell message.

“Well, the time has come to say goodbye. I have a few thanks and acknowledgements before I go. And I want to start with all of you watching out there,” he began in his speech, which he delivered at the end of the episode. “It’s been an incredible privilege to be invited into millions of homes night after night, year after year, decade after decade. And I’ve always felt that the privilege came with a responsibility to keep this daily half-hour a safe place for family fun. No social issues, no politics, nothing embarrassing, I hope. Just a game.”

Sajak, who began hosting the show in 1981, then opened up about how the program evolved into a show that served a greater purpose. “But gradually it became more than that, a place where kids learn their letters, where people from other countries honed their English skills, where families came together, along with friends and neighbors and entire generations,” he said. “What an honor to have played even a small part in all that. Thank you for allowing me into your lives.”

Pat Sajak, the Cool, Unflappable, Reliable Host, Signs Off

In 41 seasons at the helm of “Wheel of Fortune,” Mr. Sajak, whose final episode as host airs on Friday, has been a durable fixture of the American cultural landscape. If AI were ever prompted to generate an avatar of a game show host, surely the result would be Pat Sajak.

After four decades on the air, Mr. Sajak, 77, presides over his last episode of “Wheel of Fortune” on Friday. And his departure — Mr. Sajak has suggested in a series of televised exit interviews with Maggie Sajak, his daughter, that this will be a welcome retirement — offered a chance to reappraise what it is that made him such a durable fixture of the American cultural landscape. Mr. Sajak, it is probably worth remembering, has been with viewers through seven presidents, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, both the AIDS and the Covid pandemics, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the 2008 financial crash and, oh, the Kardashians. Not incidentally, he has outlasted the internet’s incursions into broadcast television’s long-held primacy.

Through it all he’s been with the American game show audience, unflappably prompting contestants to choose a consonant or buy a vowel. He calmed contestants as they guessed at Hangman-style word puzzles. He bantered inoffensively with the imperturbable Vanna White in her parade of sparkly gowns. He blandly exchanged quips with an ever-changing roster of celebrity guests as they spun a carnival-style wheel, willing it to clatter past “Lose a Turn” and “Bankrupt” to land on big money.

Pat Sajak is leaving, but ‘Wheel of Fortune’ should just keep Rolling
Vanna White and Pat Sajak on the "Wheel of Fortune" set

Pat Sajak will host “Wheel of Fortune” for the final time on June 7, ending a run of more than 40 years and 8,000 episodes. Yet unlike its companion “Jeopardy!,” which went through a long process replacing the late Alex Trebek, “Wheel” figures to keep rolling along without much of a hitch, a sign of how the two long-running game shows differ.

Both programs were created by Merv Griffin, who became fabulously wealthy thanks to their command of the hour leading into prime time on TV stations across the country. They thrived, however, for fundamentally different reasons, as anybody who ever watched “Wheel” with an elderly grandparent can probably attest.

“Jeopardy!” was the smart show, the one where viewers might be able to answer some of the questions, but probably not as well as the winning contestants. Trebek captured that with a sly wit and suave demeanor, creating the impression that he knew all the answers – or rather, questions – even if that wasn’t necessarily so.

Pat Sajak

Patrick Leonard Sajak (/ˈseɪdʒæk/ SAY-jak; né Sajdak, born October 26, 1946) is an American television personality and game show host. He is best known as the host of the television game show Wheel of Fortune, a position which he held from 1981 to 2024.

He is currently a consultant for the show. For his work on Wheel, Sajak has received 19 nominations for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host, winning three times. In 2019, he was recognized by Guinness World Records for having the longest-serving career as a game show host for the same show, surpassing previous record holder Bob Barker. Beyond his game show career, Sajak has made various appearances in films, television series, and game shows, such as Airplane II: The Sequel, Days of Our Lives, and Rugrats. He also hosted a late-night talk show on CBS from 1989 to 1990 and became a frequent guest host for CNN's Larry King Live and the syndicated Live with Regis and Kelly.

Sajak has been involved in a variety of other endeavors, including as an external director of conservative publishing house Eagle Publishing and writing for the National Review Online and Ricochet.co. He is also the author of several puzzle games, including "Lucky Letters", developed in collaboration with puzzle developer David L. Hoyt. Sajak has been married twice, currently to Lesly Brown Sajak since 1989, with whom he has two children. As of 2021, Sajak has also been credited as a Consulting Producer of Wheel of Fortune and hosts Prime Time Celebrity Wheel of Fortune on ABC alongside Vanna White.

Wheel of Fortune (American game show)
Wheel of Fortune aired continuously since January 1975

Wheel of Fortune (often known simply as Wheel) is an American television game show created by Merv Griffin. The show has aired continuously since January 1975. It features a competition in which contestants solve word puzzles, similar to those in hangman, to win cash and prizes determined by spinning a giant carnival wheel. The current version of the series, which airs in nightly syndication, premiered on September 19, 1983. Wheel of Fortune was hosted by Pat Sajak and Vanna White from its inception until June 2024; Ryan Seacrest is scheduled to take his place beginning in September 2024.

The original version of Wheel was a network daytime series that ran on NBC from January 6, 1975, to June 30, 1989, and subsequently aired on CBS from July 17, 1989, to January 11, 1991; it returned to NBC on January 14, 1991, and was cancelled that year, ending on September 20, 1991. The network daytime and syndicated nighttime versions aired concurrently from 1983 until the former's conclusion. The network version was originally hosted by Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford. Woolery left in 1981 and was replaced by Sajak. Sajak left the network version in January 1989 to host his own late-night talk show, while remaining as host of the nighttime Wheel. Sajak was replaced in the daytime by Rolf Benirschke, who was in turn replaced by Bob Goen when the network show moved to CBS. Goen remained as host for the second NBC run. Stafford left in 1982 and was replaced by White, who remained on the network show for the rest of its run. The show has also had four announcers in its history: Charlie O'Donnell, Jack Clark, M. G. Kelly, and Jim Thornton.

Wheel of Fortune ranks as the longest-running syndicated game show in the United States, with 7,000 episodes taped and aired as of May 10, 2019. TV Guide named it the "top-rated syndicated series" in a 2008 article, and in 2013, the magazine ranked it at No. 2 in its list of the 60 greatest game shows ever. The program has also come to gain a worldwide following with 60 international adaptations. The syndicated series' 41st season premiered on September 11, 2023. With the show's 36th season in 2018, Sajak became the longest-running host of any game show, surpassing Bob Barker, who hosted The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007.[5] Two spin-off versions exist as well. The first was Wheel 2000, a version featuring child contestants which aired simultaneously on CBS and Game Show Network between 1997 and 1998. This version's hosts were David Sidoni and Tanika Ray, the latter in the role of a CGI hostess named "Cyber Lucy". The second, Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, began airing on ABC on January 7, 2021, and features celebrities playing a modified version of the game with winnings donated to charity.