Wheel of Fortune

Someone else needs to get behind the wheel now.

In a tweet posted on Monday night, Pat Sajak, who has hosted the syndicated game show “Wheel of Fortune” for more than four decades, announced his plans to leave the show in 2019.

“Well, I guess it’s time now. With sadness, I must announce that this upcoming season, our 41st, will be my last on the show,” Sajak said. “It’s been an amazing journey, and I’ll be sharing more in the coming months.

“I appreciate it very much.

Sajak, now 76 years old, and Vanna White, his co-host, took over “Wheel of Fortune” in 1981. The show is a staple of the prime-time schedules of networks across the country, frequently airing alongside the quiz show “Jeopardy!”

image src=”https://media-cldnry.s-nbcnews.com/image/upload/t_fit-760w,f_auto,q_auto:best/rockcms/2023-06/230613-pat-sajak-vanna-white-mn-1100-71ee14.jpg” alt=”lazy” src=”https://media-cldnry.s-nbcnews. alt=”Wheel of Fortune” width=”2208″ height=”2840″
Vanna White and Pat Sajak appear in a promotional photo for Season 10 of “Wheel of Fortune.”NBC/Herb Ball

Sajak did not say who had the power to replace him. The show’s production and distribution company, Sony Pictures Television, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Executive v.p. of Sony Pictures Television’s video game programming Suzanne Prete said in a statement that the company was “exceptionally grateful and happy to have actually had Pat as our host for all these years.”

“We anticipate commemorating his exceptional profession throughout the upcoming season,” Prete said.

The 1975 game show “Wheel,” created by media mogul Merv Gryphon, has contestants attempting to solve hangman-style word puzzles. The show has been ingrained in American popular culture, inspiring merchandise and parodies like “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune.”

lazy” src=”https://media-cldnry.s-nbcnews.com/image/upload/t_fit-760w,f_auto,q_auto:best/rockcms/2023-06/230613-tom-hanks-wheel-of-fortune-mn-1105-5f64c3.jpg” alt=”Tom Hanks as Pat Sajak on “Saturday Night Live” in 2006. width=”2500″ height=”1629″ /> Image Loading = image”lazy”src=”https://media-cldnry.s-nbcnews.com/image/upload/t_fit-760w,f_auto,q_auto:best/rockcms/2023-06/230613-tom-hanks-wheel-of-fortune-mn-1105-5f64c3.jpg” alt=”Tom Hanks as Pat Sajak on”Saturday Night Live”in 2006.” width=”2500″ height=”1629″ />
Tom Hanks hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 2006 while dressed as Pat Sajak.NBC/Dana Edelson

According to Sony, “Wheel” has a weekly viewership of over 26 million.

The Internet Movie Database lists four of Sajak’s awards: three Daytime Emmys (1993, 1997, 1998) for outstanding host of a game show, and a lifetime achievement award in 2011.

Sony executives will certainly be under pressure to ensure that the “Wheel” succession plan is more successful than the “Jeopardy!” transition.

After “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek passed away in 2020, Sony decided to replace him with Mike Richards, the show’s producer and an unknown at the time. The sports website The Ringer published misogynistic comments he had made on a podcast years earlier, prompting his resignation in August 2021.

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Daniel Arkin

Daniel Arkin covers the news across the country for NBC News.

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