Pat Sajak, who has hosted Wheel of Fortune since 1981, will retire after next season, the show’s 41st. Sajak, 76, posted the news on Twitter.
“Well, the time has come. I’ve decided that our 41st season, which begins in September, will be my last,” Sajak tweeted on Monday. “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!)”
Sajak has hosted Wheel of Fortune since 1981, winning three Emmys for outstanding game-show host along the way, and also receiving the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award. At one point, he was hosting the show both in syndication and in primetime. Co-host Vanna White, who started as the show’s fashion plate and letter turner and soon became Sajak’s partner, started the next year. In 2018, Sajak became the longest-running TV game show host in history, surpassing The Price Is Right’s Bob Barker.
“As the host of Wheel of Fortune, Pat has entertained millions of viewers across America for 40 amazing years,” Suzanne Prete, executive VP of game shows at Sony Pictures Television, also said in a statement. “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.”
SPT earlier this year renewed Wheel of Fortune and its companion access game show, Jeopardy!, for five more years on the ABC Owned Stations at license fees upwards of $1.6 million per week, according to sources. Fox had been in the bidding mix but bowed out when Sony would not commit to giving the group the shows for six seasons or three political cycles. Both Wheel and Jeopardy! play well among news-watching audiences, who also tend to be voters. That deal keeps both game shows on the air through the 2027-28 season.
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Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.