As the host of “Wheel of Fortune” Pat Sajak has made numerous jokes. So it is fitting that he started his decades-long tenure on the show with a joke. Interestingly, this one came at his own expense.
Before we get to Sajak’s joke, we need a little background on the history of the widely popular game show. Here’s one thing you need to know – Sajak was not the first host of “Wheel of Fortune.”
According to an article on Looper.com, that when the show we now know as “Wheel of Fortune” debuted in 1975 it was not called “Wheel of Fortune.” The show was first known as “Shopper’s Bazaar.” Neither Pat Sajak nor Vanna White appeared in the first episode of the game show. “Shopper’s Bazaar” was hosted by Chuck Woolery, according to the article.
Sajak took over the hosting duties on the show in 1981. And, for the context of the joke, Woolery is quite a bit taller than Sajak. Now, we can get to Sajak’s joke. The joke was included as part of a 2013 interview he gave to NPR.
Pat Sajak Took Over Hosting Duties on ‘Wheel of Fortune’ from a Taller Man
It’s safe to assume that Pat Sajak knew that fans of “Wheel of Fortune” would notice that someone else was hosting the show. So, he chose not to beat around the bush and address the issue head-on. According to a soundbite of the host’s first show shared by NPR, here’s what Sajak had to say:
“Please do not adjust your sets at home, Chuck Woolery has not shrunk. A lot of people are playing with their vertical hold right now. As Jack mentioned, my name is Pat Sajak, and I’ve been fortunate enough to wander onto the set of a very successful program; has been for a long time …”
That’s a pretty interesting way to introduce yourself to fans of an already pretty popular show. And, clearly it worked. Pat Sajak has been the host of “Wheel of Fortune” ever since.
According to the 2013 NPR report, Sajak worked as a weatherman before landing the job as host of “Wheel of Fortune.” It was the show’s creator Merv Griffin who called Sajak to offer him the job.
“What am I going to say? I was so excited to hear from him,” Sajak told NPR in 2013.
Sajak also talked about what he felt when he became the host of “Wheel of Fortune” all those years ago.
“Honestly, I didn’t see myself as a game show host. And I don’t even know what I mean by that but – nothing against it …,” he said.
Then, Sajak elaborated further.
“..but if I were to make a list of the 50 things I thought I’d end up doing in broadcasting, you know, game show host would have been 47th, or something,” Sajak said. “So – and I said to Merv, I said, look, this is wonderful but I’m not, you know, back then especially, there was sort of a stereotypical idea of a game show host – the guy, smiley, hey, you won $10,000! You know.”
However, according to NPR, Griffin was able to talk Sajak into hosting the show. The rest, as they say, is television history.