‘Wheel of Fortune’: Pat Sajak Was Once a Contestant on the Show

by Madison Miller

Pat Sajak has been hosting “Wheel of Fortune” alongside Vanna White since 1982.

He has taped over 7,000 episodes and has spent hours upon hours staring up at word puzzles and a flashy, colorful wheel. He has over 35 years of game show hosting under his belt with “Wheel of Fortune.”

Have the decades hosting the show made him a master at solving the puzzles in “Wheel of Fortune?” He’s certainly proved he can host, but has Pat Sajak ever tried to play the popular game show himself?

Pat Sajak Plays ‘Wheel of Fortune’

On April 1, 1997, Alex Trebek walked out onto the studio stage to host “Wheel of Fortune” instead of his normal job on “Jeopardy!”

The contestants on the show were Sajak and Vanna White. The two were playing for charity. Vanna White was replaced as the letter-turner by Lesly Sajak, Pat Sajak’s wife.

The surprise was a bit of a crossover event. Sajak would then also host the April Fool’s episode of “Jeopardy!”

The “Wheel of Fortune” episode features some puzzles related to White and Sajak. For example, one of the puzzles has the clue of “The ’80s.” The answer ends up being “Vanna makes her wheel debut.”

The show then proceeds to show Vanna White walking onto the stage for the first time. Given her outfit, it’s abundantly clear that it is in fact the ’80s.

Another entertaining puzzle is “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” The episode ends with Pat Sajak having a total of $22,750 before the bonus round and Vanna White has $2,400. Sajak happened to land on a $10,000 part of the wheel.

The bonus rounds ends with a very fitting puzzle of “trading places.”

Pat Sajak Talk Show Flop

“Wheel of Fortune” continues to be one of the most popular game shows on television.

According to Looper, CBS started a late-night talk show in 1989 with Sajak as the host in order to compete with the highly popular “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

CBS built a brand new $4 million studio, paid Sajak $60,000 a week, and promoted “The Pat Sajak Show” extensively before its debut. As an icon in talk show history, Johnny Carson and his ratings were rather untouchable.

Sajak’s show walked away with about half the overall ratings that “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” had. CBS ended up calling quits on the show in 1990. Sajak was still getting compensated for the show through 1991 since he signed a two-year contract.

He may not have prospered as a talk show host, but Sajak has proven his longevity as an entertaining game show host instead.