‘Wheel of Fortune’: Pat Sajak Explained Why Recent Celebrity Version of Show Took So Long to Exist

by Chris Haney

Fans of Wheel of Fortune might have noticed something a little different about the show, which began earlier this year. For the first time in the show’s history, the Wheel invited celebrities to compete on the game show.

Although numerous game shows have celebrity appearances, Wheel of Fortune has never welcomed them in a similar fashion. Even Jeopardy! has full weeks each year dedicated to bringing in celebrities to compete on the famous quiz show. However, similar to Celebrity Jeopardy!, Celebrity Wheel of Fortune took over the game show temporarily starting in January 2021.

Hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White have welcomed numerous celebrity contestants to the show this year. Drew Carey, Patton Oswalt, Tony Hawk, Joel McHale, Leslie Jones, Kevin Nealon, Teri Hatcher and many more have competed on the show so far.

While speaking with Entertainment Tonight in January, Sajak shared why it took so long for the celebrity edition of the show to exist.

“Part of it is, we’ve always been careful about not getting the show overexposed,” Sajak explained to Entertainment Weekly. “We’ve been on a very long time, and I don’t know how much Wheel is too much. But you don’t want to water the product down too much. And this seemed like the time to do it because of what’s going on in the world.”

It turns out the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge factor in the decision.

Wheel of Fortune is kind of a sign of normalcy for people; they were very glad to have us back on the air. So this seemed like a good time to expand into prime time a little bit. At least one time, and extend that normalcy. And also, the networks frankly need programming. A lot of stuff can’t shoot the way [we] do, so the timing worked out. It was good for everybody,” Sajak noted.

‘Wheel of Fortune’ Host Doesn’t Have a Preference for Next Host

Wheel of Fortune fans may be surprised to hear about host Pat Sajak’s preference, or lack thereof, when it comes to his eventual replacement. Shockingly, Sajak seems to be indifferent as to who takes over his longstanding position as Wheel of Fortune host.

One might think he’d have a vested interest in the new hire considering how many years he’s been at the helm of the show. Sajak and Vanna White have helped popularize the famous game show since 1981. Four decades later there have been talks that their time on the show may be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

The game show host’s health issues have brought into question just how long he plans on staying in the position. In late 2019, Sajak underwent emergency surgery after suffering from a blocked intestine. As temporary host, White filled in admirably while Sajak’s daughter, Maggie, filled in for White.

When TMZ spoke with the longtime Wheel of Fortune host in January 2020, they asked Sajak about his replacement preference. But even after four decades, he doesn’t seem to care who’s next in line for his job.

“Once I’m gone, I don’t care who takes the reins,” Sajak simply explained.