The end of an era. Pat Sajak is officially retiring as the host of Wheel of Fortune after 41 Seasons. So, what does this mean for Vanna White? Is Vanna White leaving Wheel of Fortune? We have the latest news below.
Wheel of Fortune is ABC’s popular game show that’s been on the air continuously since January 1975. In the hangman-based competition created by Merv Griffin, contestants can spin the giant carnival wheel and call a consonant, buy a vowel for $250 or solve the puzzle. Each contestant is worth the cash value of what the wheel lands on. They can continue spinning the wheel until they miss a letter, spin a bankrupt or lose a turn.
Wheel of Fortune is hosted by Pat Sajak and Vanna White, who have led the nighttime version since its debut in 1983. White, a pageant queen whose prior game-show experience was a brief stint on The Price Is Right, wrote into Wheel of Fortune hoping that she could appear as a contestant. “They said, ‘If you’re ever in Los Angeles, you can come in and audition,’” White recalled to Variety in September 2017. “Little did I know I was going to come in and audition for the actual job!” In the audition, White admitted that she was the “most nervous” in her life and could barely talk because she wanted the job so badly.
The show credits White’s arrival for helping the show become the nighttime syndicated version that became so widely successful in the TV market. “I remember them saying 100 million people a week watch our show,” White also told Variety. “It’s like, ‘Whoa, I’ve been in a stadium with 60,000 people, and that’s a lot of people. I guess we have something here.’”
Sajak called the duo a “package deal” for Wheel of Fortune and noted that when they retire – they will do so simultaneously. However, it looks like Sajak made the first move. On June 12, 2023, the host announced that Season 41 of Wheel of Fortune will officially be his last. “Well, the time has come,” Sajak said in a statement to Bloomberg News. “I’ve decided that our 41st season, which begins in September, will be my last. It’s been a wonderful ride, and I’ll have more to say in the coming months. Many thanks to you all.”
So, is Vanna White retiring with Pat Sajak and leaving Wheel of Fortune? Here’s everything that we know.
Is Vanna White leaving Wheel of Fortune?
Is Vanna White leaving Wheel of Fortune after Season 41? We’re not sure, but it looks like she is staying on the Celebrity version at least for now. In July 2023, White reportedly renegotiated her salary for Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, according to our sister site Deadline. Sources said that the new deal came with a substantial salary increase, after many reports that White was making significantly less than Sajak. TMZ learned that White’s lawyers allegedly negotiated up to $100k per episode for Celebrity Wheel of Fortune.
Unfortunately, there has not been a decision about whether White will continue on the mothership show, as her contract isn’t up until 2024 — which is when Sajak exits. Insiders told TMZ in July 2023 that salary negotiations for Wheel of Fortune are currently stalled because of the ongoing actors’ strike in Hollywood.
When American Idol host Ryan Seacrest was named as Sajak’s successor on July 27, 2023, he alluded to White’s return to Wheel of Fortune in his statement.
Toward the end of his statement, Seacrest said that he’s excited to work alongside Vanna White when he joins in Season 42. “I can’t wait to continue the tradition of spinning the wheel and working alongside the great Vanna White.”
Puck News reported on June 23, 2023, that some executives at Sony TV suggested “eliminating” Vanna White’s role because it might no longer be necessary if the show replaces Sajak with an established name, such as Ryan Seacrest or these other high-profile contenders.
The alleged conversations occurred during negotiations for White to return to the show beyond the upcoming season. Puck News reported that her current salary is about $3 million annually, which is allegedly five times less than what Sajak makes. The Wheel co-host has reportedly hired celebrity litigator Bryan Freedman to address the pay discrepancy.
An insider revealed to The Daily Mail in June 2023 that “’Vanna doesn’t want to leave Wheel of Fortune even after Pat’s announcement of retirement and she would highly consider taking over his role as host on the show.” Additionally, the source said that Vanna allegedly hopes that “they don’t force her out.” “Vanna is in it for the long haul. If she doesn’t take over Pat’s job when he is done, she would like to be a part of the selection process for Pat’s replacement because if it is up to her, she is in it forever,” the source said.
White reacted to Sajak’s exit and paid tribute to their decades of hosting Wheel of Fortune together. “When we started @WheelofFortune who could have imagined we’d still be at it 41 seasons later? I couldn’t be happier to have shared the stage with you for all these years with one more to come. Cheers to you, @patsajak!,” she wrote on Twitter on June 13, 2023.
When we started @WheelofFortune who could have imagined we’d still be at it 41 seasons later? I couldn’t be happier to have shared the stage with you for all these years with one more to come. Cheers to you, @patsajak! https://t.co/yYmo3G0Dtb
— Vanna White (@TheVannaWhite) June 13, 2023
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight in September 2022, Sajak hinted that his time on Wheel could be coming to an end soon. “Years go by fast. We’re getting near the end. It’s been a long [time]. We’re not going to do this for another 40 years. The end is near,” he told the site.
Meanwhile, White gave the opposite reaction of her counterpart. “I just visualize us just being there. I can’t think beyond that… I can’t imagine. Everybody relates Wheel of Fortune to Pat and Vanna. We’re like Ken and Barbie, you know?” she told People in December 2022. “We’ve been in everybody’s homes for 40 years, so it would be weird having somebody else turn my letters,” she said.
Is Vanna White replacing Pat Sajak on Wheel of Fortune?
Is Vanna White replacing Pat Sajak on Wheel of Fortune? No, Vanna White is not replacing Pat Sajak on Wheel of Fortune. Ryan Seacrest was named the new host after Sajak retires. “I’m truly humbled to be stepping into the footsteps of the legendary Pat Sajak. 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,” the longtime American Idol host wrote in an Instagram statement on June 27, 2023.
Although Seacrest was chosen to take over — back when Sajak announced his retirement — fans overwhelmingly took to social media to request that White fully take over the program. “With the news of Pat Sajak retiring, I’d like to formally begin the campaign of getting Vanna White to take over Wheel of Fortune,” wrote Esquire journalist Justin Kirkland.
With the news of Pat Sajak retiring, I’d like to formally begin the campaign of getting Vanna White to take over Wheel of Fortune. https://t.co/Sebb2pIhFj
— Justin Kirkland (@justinkirkland4) June 12, 2023
In December 2019, when Sajak had to get emergency surgery, White was asked last minute to take over his hosting duties for three weeks. When asked by Esquire if she ever thought about hosting before, she responded: “No. No. It’s just out of my realm. I never even thought of that. It just kind of happened, and I didn’t have enough time to think about it.”
White also said at the time that she was not looking to take over Pat’s position. “I like my puzzle board, I want to stay at my puzzle board. And there’s no competition either. It’s Pat’s job, and I’m filling in for him. I’m not looking to take his position.”
VANNA WHITE FOR WHEEL OF FORTUNE HOST 2024
— Amanda (AJ) Stewart WEAR (@AmandaJWEAR) June 13, 2023
Despite White’s hosting reservations four years ago, fans were convinced that she’ll make the perfect replacement for her Wheel of Fortune costar. “With Pat Sajak retiring, the ONLY smart thing is to make VANNA WHITE the new host of WHEEL OF FORTUNE! She’s already proven herself as a substitute host, everybody loves her and she can provide smooth, unbroken continuity,” one user posted on Twitter.
For more on primetime shows, check out our photo gallery on the best nighttime soaps ranked.