Pat Sajak, host of the popular ABC game show “Wheel of Fortune,” announced he plans to retire at the end of the season next year in a statement to Bloomberg News today.
Pat Sajak Announces Upcoming Retirement
Well, the time has come. 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.
Pat Sajak has been the primary host for “Wheel of Fortune” since 1981 — also the first year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, to illustrate how vast a span of time has passed. Over the course of four decades, he’s been nominated for 19 Emmy awards in the Outstanding Game Show Host category, with three wins. Suzanne Prete, Executive Vice-President for game shows at Sony Pictures Television (the current producer of the show) also released a statement:
Pat has entertained millions of viewers across America for 40 amazing years. We are incredibly grateful and proud to have had Pat as our host for all these years and we look forward to celebrating his outstanding career throughout the upcoming season.
No official replacement is announced yet, though it has been reported that Sajak is actively considering candidates.
‘Wheel of Fortune’ on ABC
“Wheel of Fortune” debuted in 1975, originally on NBC, then CBS, and eventually becoming a part of ABC in the 1990s. For those not familiar, it’s a word puzzle game similar to hangman, with an added carnival wheel contestants spin to determine what prizes or amounts of cash they might win.
Despite its age, “Wheel of Fortune” has endured as a staple across the country, still ranking as one of the top prime time shows on television and reaching almost 8 million viewers as recently as last May.
ABC and ESPN were acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 1996, under the leadership of CEO Michael Eisner. This moment in company history has inadvertently made a larger impact than anyone may have anticipated, as current CEO Bob Iger (an ABC executive at the time) became part of Disney during the purchase. Iger joined ABC in 1974, performing menial labor on television sets before eventually becoming Head of ABC Entertainment in 1989, then CEO of Capital Cities/ABC in 1994. He was responsible for green-lighting classic shows such as “Twin Peaks” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos” during his tenure.
ABC was also impacted by the recent rounds of layoffs throughout the company, which primarily targeted the sectors of film, television, and streaming.
Are you a longtime fan of the show? How do you feel about this announcement? Who should the new host be? Let us know in the comments.