Pat Sajak Says Goodbye in Final ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Episode After Four Decades

After more than four decades, thousands of episodes, tens of thousands of contestants and hundreds of millions of dollars in prizes, the wheel of fortune finally stopped spinning for Pat Sajak.

Sajak’s last episode as host of “Wheel of Fortune” aired Friday night. He hosted nearly 8,000 episodes as he and co-star Vanna White turned what fans call “The Wheel” into one of the most popular game shows in television history and a staple of American culture.

In A farewell message Posted before the show, Sajak thanked generations of viewers for inviting him “night after night, year after year, decade after decade.”

“It’s an incredible privilege,” he said. Sajak declined an interview request from The Washington Post.

After 41 years as the legendary host of “Wheel of Fortune,” Pat Sajak retired on June 7. (Video: AP)

“Wheel of Fortune” began as a daytime show in 1975, originally hosted by Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford. But Woolery left in 1981 due to a contract dispute, and show creator Merv Griffin looked to Sajak, a little-known local. Weather forecaster In Nashville at the time.

Griffin recalled to The Post in 1986 that he liked “Pat’s eccentric antics.”

“He was very attractive,” Griffin said New York Times Magazine In 1988. “He was always playing practical jokes.”

Sajak’s eccentricity has been on display since the beginning of his tenure on “Wheel of Fortune.”

“Please do not fix your sets at home. Chuck Woolery doesn’t shrink,” Sajak said during his first episode on NBC’s Daytime Edition on December 28, 1981. “I was lucky enough to wander onto the set of a very successful project.”

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White joined him a year later, and in 1983 they started a syndicated version of the show that ran for more than 40 years. On Thursday, the show was released A two-minute video White says goodbye to a colleague who has made him feel comfortable and confident since the first episode.

Over the next four decades, they bonded in front of millions of Americans every weeknight, grew together as colleagues and friends while traveling the world and “shared a lot behind the scenes,” White said. Together flashed across the screen. Representatives for White did not respond to The Post’s request for an interview.

“You made me who I am,” she said in the video. “You really did.”

Sajak announced his retirement a year ago, saying his tenure on the show had been “an amazing ride.” Despite Sajak stepping down, White is staying on as “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest replaces Sajak for the syndicated show’s 42nd season.

In 2019, Guinness World Records provided Sajak is the longest running game show.

Sajak became politically outspoken toward the end of his career, using his humor and conservatism to play social media troll. In 2014, he wrote on social media that he believed “global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends”. That same year, Sajak published a post that could serve as a guide to his online writings: “Sometimes it’s fun to poke a stick in a stick just to hear the buzz.” In 2022, He was criticized for posing with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.).

Friday’s episode is Vintage Sajak. He was excited, but self-conscious. He celebrated the contestants’ successes and encouraged them when they gave a wrong answer. At the start of the show, he told the contestants that if they skipped a round to give them time to say a goodbye message, he would pay each of them $1,000 to make up for it. Later, he changed his mind: Make $5,000.

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“It’s not my money!” he said.

Memphis’ Adrian Beane played his part in the perfect send-off for Sajak. After defeating the other contestants, he picked so many correct letters in his final puzzle that his host knew he had a chance of winning.

“She’s already meddling. Let me create some tension,” Bean joked before solving the puzzle and winning $50,000 for doing so, bringing her total cash and prizes to $79,598.

The program ended with Sajak’s farewell video, in which he said, “I always feel privileged to be welcomed into people’s homes to spend this daily half-hour as a safe space for family fun – no social issues, no politics. , nothing awkward, I believe. Just play.”

But “Wheel of Fortune” gradually became more than that, he added. It was “a place where children learned their alphabet, people from other countries honed their English skills, families gathered with friends and neighbors and entire generations.”

“What an honor to play even a small part in that,” he said. “Thank you for letting me into your life.”

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