‘Wheel of Fortune’ Host Pat Sajak Actually Trained for Show Business In His Teens

by Emily Morgan

Pat Sajak may make his work on “Wheel of Fortune” look effortless, but the TV icon actually had professional show business training long before he stepped on set.

During Sajak’s tenure on the classic game show, he’s amazed fans with his effortless charm, charisma, and wit. He makes it look so easy, despite making sure he carefully walks the nerve-wracked contestants through their gameplay.

As it turns out, Sajak takes home a pretty penny for his work on the classic games show. According to reports, Sajak takes home a salary of $15 million.

When Sajak first joined “Wheel of Fortune” in the 1980s, he quickly garnered a fan base thanks to his unbashful personality and fearlessness about being himself. His confidence was undeniable. So it begs us to ask: where did his natural on-air talent come from? As it turns out, Sajak’s show business journey started long before he booked “Wheel of Fortune.”

Unlike other icons in the industry, Sajak came from a blue-collar family. Both his mother and father worked in factories to provide for their family.

His mother later remarried, and Sajak’s stepfather held jobs as a dock worker unloading trucks. All the while, a young Sajak knew he had other plans.

Pat Sajak gets his first professional gig in radio

“Radio and television seemed pretty cool to me,” he recalled in an interview. “I envisioned it as an easy and fun way to make a living. It turned out I was right.”

Later on in high school, he spent time in the classroom as the class clown, entertaining his “audience.” He reportedly gave his teachers two sets of answers to tests to be funny. These harmless antics got him plenty of laughs, but little did he know this would be training for his future career.

His first gig came when he won a contest in 1965 and got to be a guest teen DJ on Chicago’s Dick Biondi Show. It was his first broadcast work on the radio, and he proved to be a natural fit for the role.

“I learned I liked it and I learned I had a facility for it,” he said. “It certainly confirmed that was what I wanted to do.”

After high school, Sajak enrolled in Columbia College in Chicago to study broadcasting. An ambitious and excited Sajak was anxious to glean valuable information from teachers in the industry.

Later, after noticing Sajak’s innate abilities, one of his teachers took him under their wing and got him his first professional job. Sajak began reading the news in English for a Spanish radio show.

Although he wasn’t an overnight success, it kickstarted Sajak’s lengthy and successful career in show business. Little did he know that he would be on TV screens across America in the years to come.