‘That’s It. Thank You All So Very Much’: Iconic ‘Wheel’ Host Pat Sajak Departs After 41 Seasons

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Mariane Angela Entertainment And News Reporter
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Veteran “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak ended his 41-year run of the iconic game show with the broadcasting of Friday night’s episode, Variety reported.

During his final appearance as the show’s host, Sajak, 77, delivered a poignant farewell. The nearly half-hour broadcast, recorded April 5, 2024, opened with a nostalgic nod to his debut in 1981, according to Variety. While Sajak’s final episode featured the usual word puzzles and cheerful banter, it also included a few extra touches that highlighted the taping’s significance.

The show featured a “Thanks for the Memories” theme, with Sajak and co-host Vanna White, 67, who has been by his side for nearly the entire run, entering the set arm in arm, the outlet reported. After a lighthearted start and the resolution of the first puzzle — “Chicago, Illinois,” Sajak’s birthplace — he announced to the contestants and the audience that it would be his final night as host.

In a deviation from the usual format, one puzzle round was skipped to allow time for Sajak’s farewell, a move he humorously remarked “kind of robs you people.” To make up for it, he spun the big wheel, awarding each contestant an additional $5,000, and joked, “You know what? It’s not my money,” Variety reported. (RELATED: ‘Wheel Of Fortune’ Host Tries To Tackle Contestant In Confusing Moment)

During his four-minute farewell, Sajak maintained his composure, but signs of emotion appeared in his voice and face as he thanked everyone who has been part of his 41-year tenure as the show’s host.

“Well, the time has come to say goodbye … It’s been an incredible privilege to be invited into millions of homes night after night, year after year, decade after decade. 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 said during his farewell statement.

After expressing gratitude to the staff, his wife and family, Sajak recognized his 41-year partnership with White.

“I will miss our nightly closes and her laughter and her good nature. She’s a very special woman, and I know you’re all pleased to know that she’ll be back next season. And by the way, you’ll still see plenty of me for the next few months. That’s right, summer reruns, so the jokes will be the same, but I’d appreciate it if you laugh again anyway. That’s it. Thank you all so very much and goodbye,” he concluded.

With his departure, the mantle of being the show’s host will be passed to Ryan Seacrest in the fall, with White continuing in her role, according to Variety.

Sajak was nominated 19 times for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host, winning three times, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Guinness World Records recognized Sajak’s record-setting, over 8,000-episode career in 2019 for being a game show host for the same show, exceeding the 35-year, 6,586-episode record set by Bob Barker on “The Price Is Right.”

After two earlier marriages, Sajak married Lesly Brown Sajak in 1989, with whom he has two children. He has served as the Hillsdale College Board of Trustees chair since 2019, after being vice chair for 15 years.

Sajak also served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam as an Armed Forces Radio and Television Service DJ, according to the Department of Defense. Originally, Army Spc. 5th class Sajak was trained as a clerk typist and was a finance clerk in Vietnam, according to the USO.