“Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak really gives his all on the game show. And he doesn’t let his extensive memory of previous shows deter him from approaching each new show from a fresh angle.
In a July 2011 interview with “We Love Soaps TV,” Sajak and “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, who died on Nov. 8, 2020 of pancreatic cancer, spoke about their goals when they go to work on each show.
“First of all… you would be cheating the players, you’d be cheating the audience, you’d certainly be cheating the people who pay us to come out there and go, ‘Oh, it’s show number five-thousand-whatever,’” the “Wheel of Fortune” host said. “You come out and you treat every show as an individual entity. And it’s not like either of us has to stand backstage and kind of screw on our happy face. Again, it’s what we do and, modesty aside, it’s what helps keep the show going.”
“Ours is feel-good television,” Trebek chimed in. “We feature average Americans doing well in front of a national audience. Winning prizes, winning trips, winning lots of money. And even the people who go away as non-winners go away with something. And, at the very least, they’ve had their moment on television, on national television. They’ve been there with Pat, and with me, and they’ve been able to shine… That’s really what we do. We try to make people all around America feel good.”
Watch the interview here:
‘Wheel of Fortune’ Launched in 1983
The current version of “Wheel of Fortune” launched in 1983, although media mogul Merv Griffin first came up with the rough idea for the show around 1973. It was initially called “Shoppers’ Bazaar.”
When original host Chuck Woolery left the show in 1981, Sajak was working as a weatherman for KNBC. At Griffin’s insistence, Sajak then took over for Woolery.
Today, Sajak and White film six episodes of “Wheel of Fortune” per day, four days a month. Despite the fact that they cover six episodes in the same day, White wears a different dress for every episode, and Sajak tries to match his ties to her dresses.
Over the course of his time on the show, Sajak has made his share of mistakes. For example, he recently gave away the answer to a puzzle while talking to a contestant.
Sajak was sympathizing with a contestant who was trying to figure out a puzzle that had only half of its twelve letters showing.
“Yikes,” Sajak said to the contestant. “Well, I’d rather be standing here than there, quite frankly.”
The answer to the puzzle? “Quite frankly.”
Fortunately for Sajak, the contestant didn’t take the accidental hint and guess the puzzle. After the episode, Sajak said it just goes to show “they’re not paying any attention to me.” But you can be sure that Sajak’s every gaffe and stray comment have set the tabloids speculating about his future on “Wheel of Fortune.” So he has to stay on top of his game regardless of whether the contestants are focusing on him – because chances are, a lot of people watching the show at home are.