‘Wheel of Fortune’: Pat Sajak Explains How His Emotions Around Show Have ‘Evolved’ Over Time

by John Jamison

When Pat Sajak first took over hosting duties on “Wheel of Fortune,” the show was still in its infancy. That’s relatively speaking, of course. Many shows don’t even make it to air, let alone last seven seasons.

So when Pat Sajak replaced Chuck Woolery in 1982, he couldn’t have known that he would spend nearly 4 decades in the role. In fact, he had a completely different view of the show than he does now.

In America, people’s lives generally follow a similar pattern. Grow up, go to school – whether it’s trade school or college, get a job, maybe raise a family, and enjoy yourself along the way. The iconic “Wheel of Fortune” host’s path was not much different. Granted, his job is a little out of the ordinary. But he had the same priorities as anyone else, and he saw “Wheel of Fortune” as a means to fulfill them.

As time went by, however, things changed. Fast forward one decade, then two, then three. All of a sudden, Sajak had become a generational figure in people’s households. “Wheel of Fortune” was no longer a job. It had a significant purpose for millions of people around the world. His entire perspective had changed.

In a conversation he shared with his daughter Maggie ahead of Father’s Day Week on “Wheel of Fortune,” Pat Sajak talked about how he sees the show in a different light now.

“You know, it’s funny. The early years, like every other, it was my job. And you’re making money and raising your family and all that stuff and having a good time,” Sajak said. “And you don’t think much about what the show means to people, and when you get older, you gain an appreciation of what this little show means to people.”

What ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Means to People, Including Maggie Sajak

As a young man, Pat Sajak didn’t give much thought to the impact of his show. After all, it’s only people playing hangman, right?

Wrong. Well… right and wrong. “Wheel of Fortune” is a simple word game on the surface. But what it does for people who have been watching for decades is a much deeper matter.

“And we’re just playing hangman. I mean, it’s not that big a deal,” Sajak continued. “But it’s become a touchstone in people lives. It’s a very evocative show. You think about sitting there with your grandmother, now you’re sitting there with your kids. It runs generation to generation.”

So the show clearly means a lot to the wider audience out there. But what about Pat Sajak’s own daughter? What does “Wheel of Fortune” mean to Maggie?

“I mean, to me, it was your job my entire life,” Maggie said. “So I think I didn’t necessarily understand it when I was young. But you know, grew to appreciate it more and more. But yeah I’m used to it. You’ve been doing it for 40 years, so.”