The game show legend looks back on his long run.
It sounds like there’s only a limited number of spins left in Pat Sajak’s tenure as host of Wheel of Fortune.
The face of the iconic game show has been a staple of television for decades now, and in a new interview with Entertainment Tonight, the 75-year-old spoke about just how uncommon it is for someone to keep a job like this for so long.
“In most television shows, by this time you would have said, ‘That’s probably enough,’ but this show will not die,” Sajak said, before joking, “It appears I may go before the show.”
But on a serious note, he added that he’s starting to truly consider how much longer he’s up for the job he’s been doing for all this time.
“Years go by fast. 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,” he said. “It’s an honor to have been in people’s living rooms for that long. People were out there welcoming us. We’re happy and proud.”
Wheel of Fortune premiered in 1975. Back then, it was a daytime show, and its first host was Chuck Woolery. But Sajak stepped in when Woolery departed in December 1981, and he’s hosted consistently since, except for 1989 and 1990, when he left to host the short-lived late night talk series The Pat Sajak Show.
A lot has changed in the world during the 40 years Sajak’s been at the helm of Wheel, including how he and letter-reveal queen Vanna White conduct themselves during tapings. During a 2012 interview, Sajak admitted he hosted the show while under the influence on many occasions in the early days — and had a great time doing it.
“We had a different show then. We had endless time between shows. Our dinner breaks would be two-and-a-half hours long while they drove in new cars and boats and gazebos and stuff,” Sajak recalled. “So Vanna and I would go across and have two or three or six [margaritas], and then come and do the last shows, and have trouble recognizing the alphabet.”
(But you can rest assured he’s got all his wits about him these days: “Now, if I were to inhale the cork and a bottle of wine, I would probably keel over. I’m getting a little older for this,” he added.)
And while Sajak’s looking toward the end of this chapter, there’s still plenty of fun to be had, including the upcoming new season of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, which premieres Sept. 25. In his conversation with ET, the host with the most added that he does have a dream contestant he’s crossing his fingers for.
“I’m still pulling for Meryl Streep, ’cause I wanna see her say, ‘Come on, big money!’ That’s all I want, but she won’t come on because she found out you can’t win an Oscar for this,” Sajak joked.
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