HomeEntertainment‘Wheel of Fortune’: What Was First Episode of Show Like?

‘Wheel of Fortune’: What Was First Episode of Show Like?

by Keeli Parkey
(Christopher Willard via Getty Images)

“Wheel of Fortune” has been airing on television for almost five decades. During that time it has become a phenomenon that has been watched by countless fans. Grandparents, parents, and children can all enjoy the game show while gathered together.

The show’s current format is very familiar to its viewers. You have the wheel, host Pat Sajak, the lovely Vanna White, and there are phrases such as, “I’d like to solve the puzzle.”

However, the show as we know it today is very different from how it appeared in its very first episode.

According to an article on Looper.com, “Wheel of Fortune” was created by television legend Merv Griffin. He was inspired to create the game show based on the “Hangman” game. However, to make the show more interesting, he needed something else.

Griffin talked about developing “Wheel of Fortune” in his autobiography, which was released in 2003. The book is titled “Merv: Making the Good Life Last.” It was during a trip to Las Vegas that he was inspired to use a wheel on his new gameshow. With a plan in mind, Griffin went to NBC. The network agreed to move ahead with the show.

What current fans of the gameshow might not know is that when the show we now know as “Wheel of Fortune” debuted in 1975 it was not called “Wheel of Fortune.” According to the article, the show was first known as “Shopper’s Bazaar.”

‘Wheel of Fortune’ Was Very Different When it Debuted in 1975

The format of the show was also different in when it debuted in 1975. Contestants chose what prizes they would buy with the money they won at the start of the episodes. Also, the wheel was vertical and players didn’t spin it. In fact, the players didn’t stand next to the wheel. Instead, they stood near the prizes they said they wanted.

Also, the board that showed the words wasn’t as big or as fancy as it would become as the years went on. There was also no one doing Vanna White’s job. The letters were turned by an individual who did not appear on camera.

Maybe most noticeably, neither Pat Sajak nor Vanna White were in the first episode of the gameshow. “Shopper’s Bazaar” was hosted by Chuck Woolery, according to the article.

The article also reported that “Wheel of Fortune” aired its 7,000th episode during 2019. Also, Pat Sajak has received a Guinness World Record as the individual who has hosted a gameshow for more episodes than any other individual.

Pat Sajak reportedly receives a salary of $15 million per year for his work on “Wheel of Fortune,” according to an article on CelebrityNetWorth.com. In comparison, Vanna White, who has also been on the show for many years, makes $10 million per year.

Here’s some math regarding the salaries of Sajak and White. If they film four days a month for 12 months, that’s 48 filming days per year. According to the article, that breaks down to $312,500 per day for Sajak and $208,333 for White. Breaking that down even further shows that Sajak earns $52,083 per episode while White earns $34,722 per episode.