‘Wheel of Fortune’: Vanna White Opens Up About Starring on Show for 39 Years

by Taylor Cunningham

After 39 years, Vanna White still feels blessed to work on Wheel of Fortune.

Vanna joined the show when she was only 26 years old. And in nearly four decades, she’s only taken three extended breaks from the puzzle board.

In 1986, Vanna stepped away to grieve her then-boyfriend John Gibson after he died in a plane crash. Then in 1991, she went on hiatus to celebrate her wedding to George Pietro. And finally, she took a week off in March of that same year to recover from a particularly bad cold.

In all, the star has been present for 7,333 Wheel of Fortune episodes—so far. And after doing the math, we realized that means that Vanna White has only called off 30 times. That’s true dedication.

So why does the co-host continue to show up each day, despite the fact that she’s been in the same position for well over half her life? In an interview with KTLA 5, she explained why.

“We absolutely love it,” she admitted with a smile. ” We love coming to work. We’ve worked with all the staff and crew here so long. They’re family. So when we come to work, it’s like being together as a family. And it’s fun. It’s fun to come here. We see people win lots of money and have a good time.”

Vanna White on her Most Mortifying ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Moment

To us, Vanna White has been absolutely flawless during her time on Wheel of Fortune. But according to her, she once made a mortifying mistake, and it “scarred her for life.”

As most of you know, Vanna reveals the letters on the Wheel of Fortune puzzle board. In current episodes, the co-host simply taps a block every time a contestant makes a correct guess. But in the show’s earlier days, she actually had to turn the blocks.

As Vanna said during a recent appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show, she accidentally turned the wrong letter during filming one day. And the mistake has left quite a lasting impression on her.

“I was mortified,” she gasped. “I don’t even remember which was the correct puzzle. It was either ‘Dr. Spock’ or ‘Mr. Spock,’ and I turned the ‘M’ or the ‘D.’ And it was like, ‘That’s the wrong letter! Oh, my gosh!’ I’m scarred for life on that.”

Luckily for Vanna, the episodes aren’t live. So to fix the mistake, the producers simply scrapped the puzzle altogether and gave the contestants a new one. However, her miscalculation did prompt the show to upgrade its technology.

“In 1997, they changed the puzzle board, where I only touch the letters,” she continued. “And when I touch them, I won’t touch them unless they light up.” That way, it’s impossible for Vanna White to ever be “scarred” again.