One last spin: Pat Sajak bids emotional farewell to ‘Wheel of Fortune’

Pop Culture

After a legendary 41-year run as the host of Wheel of Fortune, Pat Sajak is bidding adieu to the classic game show.

“The time has come to say goodbye,” Sajak said in an emotional speech, thanking viewers for welcoming him into their homes via their television sets over the decades.

Sajak, 77, announced last year that he would be retiring at the end of Wheel of Fortune‘s 41st season. His final episode as host will air on Friday, June 7.

“I have a few thanks and acknowledgments before I go, and I want to start with all watching out there. It’s been an incredible privilege to be invited into millions of homes night after night, year after year, decade after decade,” he said.

And with great privilege comes great responsibility. Sajak noted that he took it upon himself as host to “keep this daily half-hour a safe place for family fun. No social issues, no politics, nothing embarrassing I hope, just a game.”

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“But gradually it become more than that — a place where kids learned their letters, where people from other countries honed their English skills, where families came together along with friends and neighbours, and entire generations.”

“What an honour to have played even a small part in all of that. Thank you for allowing me into your lives,” he concluded.

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As audiences say goodbye to Sajak, they will be saying hello to Ryan Seacrest at the start of the new season. The American Idol host has been confirmed as Sajak’s replacement.

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It may be hard for viewers to accept anyone other than Sajak as host, given how long he’s held the position. But at least longtime co-host Vanna White will be staying on the show through the 2025-26 season.

“I don’t know how to put into words what these past 40 years have meant to me but I’m going to try,” White said in a tribute to Sajak on Thursday. “8000 episodes went by like that. When I first started, I was so green. You made me so comfortable and so confident, Pat. You made me who I am, you really did.”

“As this chapter of our lives is coming to an end, I know you’ll still be close by,” she added. “You’re like a brother to me and I consider you a true lifelong friend who I will always adore. I love you, Pat.”

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Click to play video: 'Vanna White takes over as ‘Wheel of Fortune’ host for 1st time'

Vanna White takes over as ‘Wheel of Fortune’ host for 1st time

It was announced last year that Sajak would stay on as a consultant for Wheel of Fortune for at least three seasons after retiring from hosting duties.

In a recent interview with Good Morning America, Sajak said he was “surprisingly OK” hanging up his hat.

“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.

And what a run it has been. Sajak has been hosting the syndicated evening edition of Wheel of Fortune since it debuted in September 1983. The original Wheel of Fortune was a daytime program when it started in 1975, with Chuck Woolery as host.

Sajak replaced him as host of the daytime edition in 1981, meaning his connection to Wheel of Fortune goes back a whopping 43 years.

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He ranks as the longest-serving host of any U.S. TV game show, surpassing the 35 years Bob Barker presided over The Price is Right on CBS and the 37 years Alex Trebek starred on Jeopardy!

— With files from Reuters

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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