Pat Sajak Was Not the Original Wheel of Fortune Host — and 8 Other Wild Facts as He Retires

He's been behind the Wheel for 40 seasons —but as of June 7, 2024, Pat Sajak, Wheel of Fortune's longtime host, is giving his final spin

Published Time: 07.06.2024 - 21:31:04 Modified Time: 07.06.2024 - 21:31:04

He's been behind the Wheel for 40 seasons —but as of June 7, 2024, Pat Sajak, Wheel of Fortune's longtime host, is giving his final spin.

Throughout the past four decades, the show has changed in minor ways, but the concept has always been the same: contestants guess letters and try to make out what the phrase says on the letter board.

While it seems as though the show is live each night, it's actually recorded in advance — and they tape all five weeknight episodes in just one day each week.

Sajak and Vanna White change outfits and audience members in between each show, which are taped at the Sony Studio lot in Los Angeles, right next door to the Jeopardy! studio. Because they share a film crew, Wheel has to tape on a different day than Jeopardy!

Read on for more random trivia about America's longest-running game show, which will have one major change when it returns in the fall: Instead of Sajak as the show's host, it will be Ryan Seacrest!

Sajak joined Wheel of Fortune in 1981 and replaced Chuck Woolery, who had hosted the show for five years prior. "Please do not adjust your sets at home, Chuck Woolery has not shrunk," Sajak joked in his first introduction, acknowledging the height difference between him and his predecessor.

Woolery left in pursuit of other endeavors in entertainment and Sajak wished him luck. "Chuck has decided to leave the show to concentrate on other areas in his career. He's a very talented actor and singer/songwriter, so I want to take a minute — I know everyone in the studio does, and all his fans around the country — to wish Chuck nothing but the best for future success and happiness."

Vanna White, 67, has worn more than 7,800 different outfits while at the puzzleboard. Does she get to keep them? Nope! All of dresses are returned to the designers after being worn on the show, but the shoes -

and jewelry she sports are from her own closet.

Sajak is the longest serving host of a national non-sports program, and holds the Guinness World Records title for having the longest career as a game show host for the same show. In 1994, he was awarded a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

Pat Sajak used to always do the “Final Spin” of the wheel, until Season 39 when it was turned over to the contestant to control. During the “Final Spin,” the Wheel does occasionally land on Bankrupt, but fans at home will never see that, according to show producers. When this occurs, the Wheel is re-spun and the Bankrupt is edited out in post-production.

Since its syndication debut in 1983, Wheel has awarded more than $250 million in cash and prizes to its contestants, according to production. The “Million Dollar Wedge” was introduced in 2008, and since then, there have been three contestants who have each won $1 million.

There are 73 stainless steel pins on the Wheel that fly past the three hard rubber flippers that give it its unmistakable sound.

In 1997, the puzzleboard went from analog to digital so Vanna could touch a monitor to display letters. The update also allowed the puzzles to be reset in a matter of seconds, rather than taking several minutes to reset each letter manually.

Contestants stopped “shopping” for prizes in 1987, but before then, Sheldon, a ceramic Dalmatian, was a fan favorite when contestants were able to buy prizes with their winnings. The statue is still on display in the studio and has become a mascot for the show.

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The first letter Vanna ever turned on the puzzleboard was the “T” in the puzzle “GENERAL HOSPITAL.”

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