Pat Sajak Gives One Final Spin as Host of 'Wheel of Fortune'

Pat Sajak Retiring as Host of 'Wheel of Fortune' After Over 40 Years

Pat Sajak took one final turn at the wheel on Friday night's episode of 'Wheel of Fortune.'

Pat Sajak has said goodbye to Wheel of Fortune after more than 40 years of hosting the beloved game show.

On Friday, the 77-year-old TV personality took a turn at the wheel one last time and made his emotional farewell from the long-running game show -- which he began hosting back in December 1981. At the time, he took over for another iconic game show host, Chuck Woolery. 

During his final show, a visibly emotional Sajak maintained his composure, interacting with the show's contestants and his close companion and hostess, Vanna White, who is remaining with the show for future seasons. 

"I have a few thanks and acknowledgements before I go. And I want to start with all of you watching out there," Sajak shared in his farewell speech on the Wheel of Fortune set. "It's been an incredible privilege to be invited into millions of homes, night after night, decade after decade."

Sajak, who taped the final episode on April 5, also reflected on his responsibility to keep the long-running game show a "safe place for family fun" over his 41 seasons as host.

"No social issues. No politics. Nothing embarrassing, I hope. Just a game. But gradually it became more than that," Sajak said wistfully.

Pat Sajak said his final farewell to Wheel of Fortune on Friday, June 7. - Getty Images

Sajak also had a sweet moment as he said his goodbyes when White, who has been by his side since almost the very beginning, tearfully addressed her on-screen partner's exit and thanked him for four decades of partnership. 

The adieu comes almost 43 years after Sajak took over the game show from Woolery, who left after six years due to a salary dispute with the series' creator, Merv Griffin. According to Griffin's autobiography, Merv: Making the Good Life Last, he chose Sajak -- who was working as a weatherman in Los Angeles at the time -- for his "odd" sense of humor.

Griffin -- convinced he was right about Sajak's potential with the show -- also went to bat for the now icon of evening television as the NBC president and CEO at the time reportedly said Sajak was "too local" to have national appeal. Griffin wrote in his book, per Parade, that he threatened to shut down production if Sajak wasn't allowed to host. When you know, you know -- and Griffin was right!

Vanna White, Pat Sajak and Dwight Schultz on Wheel of Fortune in November 1985. - NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Earlier this week, Sajak sat down alongside his daughter, Maggie, and opened up about his retirement -- which actually began in April -- and the preparation he has been going through.

"This was announced a long time ago, almost a year ago. So 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 the great run," Sajak said in the interview.

As for what's next on the horizon, Sajak said he'll enjoy the simple pleasures, like crossword puzzles and spending time with future grandchildren (keyword, future).

"I'm perfectly happy if it just means that I'll continue with my crossword puzzles and play with grandchildren. Hint hint hint, no pressure," he teased his daughter.

But it was later revealed that Sajak already landed his first gig post-retirement: starring in a new take on Prescription: Murder, which will run from July 31 to Aug. 10, 2025 at Honolulu's Hawaii Theatre.

Sajak first announced his decision to step back from the show in June 2023, telling the show's viewers and fans that the 41st season would be his last. Just two weeks later, it was confirmed that American Idol host Ryan Seacrest would take the reins from Sajak for future seasons. 

"I'm truly humbled to be stepping into the footsteps of the legendary Pat Sajak," Seacrest said at the time. "I can say, along with the rest of America, that it's been a privilege and pure joy to watch Pat and Vanna on our television screens for an unprecedented 40 years, making us smile every night and feel right at home with them."

Pat Sajak in an early photo from Wheel of Fortune. - Getty

In the interview with his daughter, Sajak also joked about his plans for retirement and how it might be more similar to his day job than people would think.

"I'm perfectly happy if it [retirement] just means that I'll continue with my crossword puzzles and play with grandchildren. Hint hint hint, no pressure," he teased Maggie -- who became a social correspondent for Wheel of Fortune in 2021 -- and does not have children. Sajak also has one son, Patrick, who he shares with Lesly Brown, his wife of 33 years. 

As he looked back on his career and the impact of the series, he added that while it has been an honor to host Wheel of Fortune for so long, he is even more thankful for the way that the show has cemented itself in pop culture history. 

"Somewhere along the line, we became more than a popular show. We became part of the popular culture. And more importantly, we became part of people's lives. And, that's been awfully gratifying," he said.

Congratulations! Here's one final puzzle for you... Y_u Wi_l Be M_ss_d.