Wheel of Fortune host signs off after four decades

Pat Sajak, the longtime host of Wheel of Fortune, has signed off to viewers after four decades of asking contestants if they “would like to buy a vowel” on the quiz show.

In a video, Sajak called it “an incredible privilege to be invited into millions of homes, night after night, year after year, decade after decade”. His final episode aired Friday.

Sajak, 77, has recorded more than 8 000 episodes of Wheel of Fortune and has been a constant presence in American media since taking over the host role in 1981.

In 2018, he became the longest-running host of a game show, surpassing The Price Is Right’s Bob Barker.

In 1983, co-host Vanna White joined him for the version of the show familiar to viewers today.

In his sign-off video, Sajak said: “I always felt that the privilege came with the responsibility to keep this daily half-hour a safe place for family fun. No social issues. No politics.

“Nothing embarrassing, I hope. Just a game.”

“But gradually it became more than that — a place where kids learn their letters, where people from other countries honed their English skills, where families came together, along with friends and neighbours and entire generations.”

“What an honour to play even a small part in all of that,” he said, adding: “Thank you for allowing me into your lives.”

In the clip, his co-host Vanna White also paid tribute to her longtime colleague, saying: “You’re like a brother to me and I consider you a true lifelong friend who I will always adore.”

The primetime staple still attracts 26 million viewers weekly, Sony said last year when Sajak announced his plans to retire. More than 10 000 people audition to be on the show each year.

Originally devised as a TV version of popular game “Hangman”, contestants spin a wheel to determines prizes that can be won by solving word puzzles.

The show has awarded over $250m (£199m) in prizes since its launch, Sony said.

Ryan Seacrest, the host of American Idol, is due to take over as Wheel of Fortune host.

Sajak, who has attracted some controversy for his support of conservative Republicans such as Georgia’s Marjory Taylor Greene, has already lined up his next role in entertainment.

He will perform at a community theatre next year in Hawaii, where he is due to star in the play “Prescription: Murder”.

The 1962 play was the inspiration for longrunning TV series Colombo. (BBC)

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