Legendary game show host Pat Sajak hinted that he’s at the “the end” of his tenure as “Wheel of Fortune’s” long running host.
“We’re getting near the end. It’s been a long [time]. We’re not gonna do this for another 40 years. The end is near,” Sajack, 75, told “Entertainment Tonight” on Thursday. “It’s an honor to have been in people’s living rooms for that long. We’re happy and proud.”
“In most television shows by this time, you would have said, ‘That’s probably enough,’ but this show will not die,” he continued. “It appears I may go before the show. Years go by fast.”
Sajak has hosted the ABC staple since 1981, but wasn’t “Wheel’s” original host. Iconic producer Merv Griffin created the game show in 1975, and launched the series with original host Chuck Woolery as a daytime television show. Sajak replaced Woolery after a six-year stint, and was joined permanently by co-host Vanna White, 65, when “Wheel” moved to prime time in 1983.
Both Sajak and White are contractually committed to stay with the show through the 2023-2024 season, but this isn’t the first time the longtime host has ruminated about his inevitable retirement.
“We’re certainly closer to the end than the beginning,” he remarked to “Entertainment Tonight” in 2021 during a joint interview with White. “I’d like to leave before people tune in and look at me and say, ‘Ooh, what happened to him?’”
“I wouldn’t bet on seeing us in 10 years, I would say,” Sajak commented, then asked White “Is that fair?”
“Probably, yes,” White replied.
Sajak’s health may be a factor in his decision to leave the show sooner than later. He was rushed into emergency surgery for a blocked intestine in December of 2019, which at the time, he thought would lead to his demise.
“I didn’t know what it [was] — but within two and a half hours, I was in surgery,” Sajak told Good Morning America. “It was that quick and intense.”
“In the background, I could hear my wife and daughter talking. It sounded like they were a mile off, but they were right next to me,” he continued. “They were talking to each other. And I remember thinking, not in a morbid way, ‘I think this must be death. This must be what death is like.’”
“Hearing their voices, I thought, ‘Boy, their lives are gonna change now.’ And I felt badly for them. I didn’t feel badly about dying. I felt badly that they were gonna have to deal with the aftermath. As it turned out, I was just high.”
The medical incident was the first time he ever missed filming a single episode. White took over hosting duties while he was on the mend from surgery, which he fully recovered from.
“I’m as good or bad as new, and that’s great,” he said in the aftermath. “I still have my wits about me. They didn’t remove that, so I’ll be selling vowels for a long time.”