‘Wheel of Fortune’: Pat Sajak Explains Why the Show Got Rid of the ‘Free Play’ in New Season

by Taylor Cunningham

If you’re an avid Wheel of Fortune fan and you watched tonight’s episode, you may have noticed that something was amiss. The Free Play wedge was gone. And as Pat Sajak explained in an Instagram post, he didn’t really understand the point of the wedge anyway.

The Free Play made its way onto the show’s fortunate wheel in 2009 when it replaced the coveted Free Spin. If a player guessed a wrong letter or incorrectly solved a puzzle, they could trade a Free Play in for another try. But after 11 years, the show decided to nix the concept.

Tonight, Pat Sajak and Vanna White explained why they cut the wedge loose in an Instagram video. “Who noticed this change on the wheel?” asked the caption.

“One thing we haven’t mentioned,” Pat says. “There’s a space missing from the wheel—a wedge. Do you know what it is?” he asks Vanna.

“Free Play,” she answers.

“Free Play,” Pat echos. “The dreaded Free Play.” Pat continues to explain that there are a lot of reasons, mostly technical, behind the show’s change.

“But the main [reason] is, I never understood it,” he explains with a shrug. So the wedge had to go. But on the bright side, players can now earn more money on the show.

“But now, there’s an $850 in its place. So more money’s always a better thing.”

And we agree with Pat’s sentiment. More cash is always nice.

‘Wheel of Fortune’ Host Pat Sajak Teases Leaving the Show

Pat Sajak’s time on Wheel of Fortune may be coming to an end—we know, we don’t want to hear it either. But after 40 years as the gameshow’s host, he has retirement on the brain. 

Sajak just started his second season of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, and he chatted with Entertainment Tonight about his spin-off (see what we did there?). And while he was promoting the show, he mentioned that his days with the franchise are numbered. And so are Vanna White’s.

“We’re certainly closer to the end than the beginning,” Sajak, 74, said. “I’d like to leave before people tune in and look at me and say, ‘Ooh, what happened to him?’”

In our opinion, Pat Sajak and Vanna White are timeless. But the co-hosts think otherwise. And they want to walk away while they’re still in their primes.

“I wouldn’t bet on seeing us in, like, 10 years, I would say,” Sajak continued. Then he asked Vanna if that was a fair assessment. And she agreed that it is.

Pat continued by telling ET that it’s almost “unfathomable” that the two have been with the show for four decades. He’s actually the longest-running game show host in history. And Vanna White has been his co-star for nearly as long.

“We’ve been together for like 38 years and he’s like my brother,” White said. “He’s funny. I mean, we could finish each other’s sentences if we wanted to. We know each other that well.”