Pat Sajak is about to take his final spin. The longtime “Wheel of Fortune” host, who has been at the helm of the game show institution since 1981, will step away from the production after the end of his upcoming 41st season.
“Well, the time has come. I’ve decided that our 41st season, which begins in September, will be my last,” Sajak wrote. “It’s been a wonderful ride, and I’ll have more to say in the coming months. Many thanks to you all. (If nothing else, it’ll keep the clickbait sites busy!)”
While Sajak will no longer be the face of “Wheel of Fortune,” he will continue a partnership with the program as a consultant, according to producer Sony Pictures Television.
Sajak has hosted “Wheel of Fortune” since the Reagan presidency, emceeing the daytime edition from 1981 to 1989 and taking on nighttime duties in 1983. Other things that happened in 1981 — NASA’s first space shuttle mission, the launch of the McRib and MTV, as well as the death of Bob Marley. Throughout his time hosting “Wheel,” Sajak has won the Daytime Emmy for outstanding game show host three times, along with 19 total nominations.
Sajak, 76, has presided over the game show, which features contestants guessing letters to try to fill out words and phrases to win money and prizes, since 1981. He took over duties from Chuck Woolery, who was the show’s first host when it debuted in 1975.
Along with Vanna White, who joined the show in 1982, Sajak has been a television mainstay. The show soon shifted to a syndication and aired in the evening in many markets, becoming one of the most successful game shows in history. Sajak will continue to serve as a consultant on the show for three years after his retirement as host.
“As the host of Wheel of Fortune, Pat has entertained millions of viewers across America for 40 amazing years. We are incredibly grateful and proud to have had Pat as our host for all these years and we look forward to celebrating his outstanding career throughout the upcoming season,” said Suzanne Prete, executive vice president of game shows for Sony Pictures Television.
In recent years, some of Sajak’s banter and chiding of contestants have become fodder for social media. That prompted Sajak to remark in his retirement post about doing another season: “(If nothing else, it’ll keep the clickbait sites busy!)”
“As the host of Wheel of Fortune, Pat has entertained millions of viewers across America for 40 amazing years,” said Suzanne Prete, executive vp game shows at Sony Pictures Television, which produces Wheel of Fortune. “We are incredibly grateful and proud to have had Pat as our host for all these years and we look forward to celebrating his outstanding career throughout the upcoming season. Pat has agreed to continue as a consultant on the show for three years following his last year hosting, so we’re thrilled to have him remaining close to the Wheel of Fortune family.”
Sajak was a weatherman at KNBC in Los Angeles when Wheel of Fortune creator offered him the job as host of the NBC daytime version of the game show in 1981. White joined him a year later, and in 1983, they became the faces of the evening syndicated Wheel. The show remains one of the most popular on all of broadcast TV, averaging better than 9 million daily viewers most weeks. Sajak has won three Daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding game show host and received a lifetime achievement award, along with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, at the 2011 Daytime Emmys.
Sajak and White also host ABC’s primetime Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, which is slated to begin its fourth season in the fall.
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