Sunday, July 21, 2024

Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak signs off

The longest-serving TV game show host in history signed off on Friday, June 7, after leading the US primetime hit Wheel of Fortune for 41 seasons.

Pat Sajak has been a staple in American homes since 1981, hosting over 8,000 episodes of the show, which has become a regular 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.”

Sajak, 77, was known for his calm, steady demeanor, asking contestants to choose a consonant or buy a vowel in the word-guessing game. With his suit and tan, he engaged in light conversation with guests and bantered with co-host Vanna White, who joined the show in 1982, a year after Sajak. In 2019, Guinness World Records recognized Sajak for the longest career as a game show host for the same show.

White paid an emotional tribute to her co-host on Thursday’s episode, calling him “like a brother” and a “true lifelong friend,” emphasizing that their personal friendship was even more meaningful than their professional relationship. Sajak announced in June 2023 that he would retire at the end of the show’s 41st season, with American Idol host Ryan Seacrest set to succeed him.

White will remain as Seacrest’s co-host through the 2025-2026 season, based on a contract extension she signed in September. In a recent interview for “Good Morning America” with Sajak’s daughter Maggie, who is the show’s social correspondent, Sajak said he felt “surprisingly OK” about his retirement, having had nearly a year to prepare for his final show.

“I’ve had time to sort of get used to it, and it’s been a little bit wistful and all that, but I’m enjoying it and taking it all in and reflecting on a great run,” he said.

Reflecting on his time with the popular game show, Sajak expressed gratitude for how audiences across the country embraced the show and made it a part of their daily routines. “Somewhere along the line, we became more than a popular show. We became a part of popular culture, and more importantly, we became a part of people’s lives,” he said. “That’s been awfully gratifying.”

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