‘Wheel of Fortune’: Inside the Unforgettable Moment Pat Sajak and ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Alex Trebek Swapped Jobs

by Joe Rutland

People who watch Wheel of Fortune know that Pat Sajak has been the host for a long time. He and Alex Trebek once swapped spots. Yes, there was a time back in 1997, on April Fool’s Day no less, when Sajak popped up on Jeopardy!.

‘Wheel of Fortune’ Star Pat Sajak Steps Behind Podium on ‘Jeopardy!’

Where was Alex Trebek? Well, he was next to the big wheel. But before we get there, let’s look at Sajak’s moment. So, the Jeopardy! announcer introduced three contestants before the show’s host. Everybody is expecting Trebek, right? Um, not this time. He says, “And now, here is the host of Jeopardy… Pat Sajak!”.

Talk about whiplash for some fans. They didn’t expect to see Sajak at all. So, he walks on stage and says, “Welcome to Jeopardy!, glad you could be here on our April 1 edition.” The contestants might not have been in on the gag, but they appeared to be focused on the game at hand. Of course, they could have been stunned too.

Over on Wheel of Fortune, Trebek says, “Welcome to our special, Tuesday, April 1 edition of Wheel of Fortune. I’ll leave you to figure out why I am here today,” he said to the audience. We get more from Rare. Would you believe that Trebek had hosted the show before? Yep. He filled in for Chuck Woolery in 1980 and for Sajak in 1985. There’s no doubt Jeopardy! fans still miss the longtime host.

Show’s Creator Also Has A Tie With Classic TV Himself

Yes, in case you are wondering, that’s the same Chuck Woolery who made a name for himself on Love Connection. Still, that show did not have the same legs as far as staying on the air as Wheel of Fortune. But there even is a classic TV connection, and not a love one, for the long-running game show.

We take a minute and look at the show’s creator, Merv Griffin. The one-time Big Band singer actually became a solid businessman and entrepreneur. Of course, people might remember Griffin from his long-running talk show on TV. Yet Griffin created the fun that people have with the wheel all the time. Of course, he also was the guy who created Jeopardy! too. Before its success in syndication, it did run on NBC for a few seasons in the 1960s and 1970s.

The structures of both game shows have remarkably stayed the same over the years. Sure, there have been tweaks and adjustments for the times. Still, you have a big puzzle to solve on Wheel of Fortune and that fabled “Final Jeopardy!” round, too. And it’s still fun to watch both shows as well.