Vanna White has been a fixture on the “Wheel of Fortune” stage for nearly four decades. She’s no stranger to standing in front of a crowd and managing a high-stakes game of hangman. So why was she scared when the studio asked her to fill in for Pat Sajak in 2019?
In late 2019, Pat Sajak underwent emergency surgery to clear a blocked intestine. In an interview with Good Morning America, Vanna talked about what was going through her mind when she found out.
“You think the worst, because you never know when you’re going in for surgery. You never know what’s going to happen,” she said.
Thankfully, Sajak’s surgery wasn’t anything too serious, and the longtime host would be able to return to work after a short recovery. In the meantime, the producers of the show needed someone to fill in temporarily. And Vanna White was a natural choice.
“I was like, ‘What? No. You’re kidding, right?’ He goes, ‘No, I’m serious.’ And my first thought was, ‘There’s no way.’ I don’t pay attention to Pat,” the “Wheel of Fortune” star said. “I’m busy with my letters and my puzzle board. I mean, I’m hearin’ him, but I don’t really pay that much attention.”
It Wasn’t the First Time Vanna Stepped in on ‘Wheel of Fortune’
Back in 1996, Pat Sajak was sidelined with a case of laryngitis. Because Pat’s voice was so hoarse, Vanna was called upon to step in for Pat during a bonus round segment. The pair switched roles, and Sajak turned letters with his best Vanna impression.
Granted, it was only one segment. But Vanna’s a natural. Who needs Pat Sajak anyway?
Fast forward to 2019, though, and Vanna White had yet to host a full show of “Wheel of Fortune,” let alone three weeks worth.
In her 2019 interview, she said that you “have to be aware of everything that’s going on, where before all I had to worry about was letters. Now I have to carry the whole show, I have to talk to all three players and make sure I get their scores right.”
Vanna also hadn’t counted on the fact that she’d have to spin the 2,400-lb wheel, which was a relatively new experience for her. But thankfully, the change was only temporary.
“Those three weeks without him was very hard. I really missed him. I just can’t imagine doing this show without him, you know? And I hope he feels the same with me,” she said.
Watch Vanna White host a December 2019 episode of “Wheel of Fortune” below.