‘Wheel of Fortune’: Vanna White Thought She Would be ‘Eliminated’ After Show’s Switch to Digital

by Emily Morgan

Vanna White got her start on the classic game show “Wheel of Fortune” after Susan Stafford left the show in 1982. On December 13, 1982, White would make her network debut, and her life would never be the same. 

For decades, her effortless revealing of letters on the game board paired with her infectious smile made her an easy-to-love fixture on the popular show. 

Yet, there was a time when White wasn’t always so peppy when she stepped on set. 

Vanna White Vs. Digital Letter Board

Long before the show went digital, White had to physically turn the letters to reveal the letters to the contestants and the audience. After decades of the same routine, all that changed in 1997, when the iconic letterboard got an update and went digital. 

The new touchscreen board saved the show hours, as the puzzles can be quickly updated via a computer. However, the new board wasn’t loved by everyone at first. 

During an interview with The Believer, White revealed she thought the show would fire her due to the modernized letter board. 

“Basically, I wait for a letter to light up and I turn it—or touch it, I should say, White said. “That changed, by the way, in 1997. Prior to that, I turned the letters, and then we got a computerized screen, which saved a lot of time for the production. Instead of manually putting the letters in and taking them out, they computerized it.”

She feared the network would replace her, seeing how a controller could now operate the board with a simple click of a mouse.

“I could easily be eliminated,” White said. “It’s a computer! But they have it where I activate the screen when I touch it. And they need me, they need me.

Good news for Vanna White and her fans: that never happened. Despite the changes in technology, White has remained on the show in the years following. 

For nearly 40 years, White has starred alongside her co-host Pat Sajak. It looks she’ll be re-upping her contract, set to expire in 2022. If we were to guess, she will more than likely be hosting the show as long as she can. In addition to her chemistry and hilarious banter with Sajak, White also brings home roughly $10 million annually.