Pat Sajak‘s announcement that the next season of Wheel of Fortune will be his last was surprising, even though he’d teased for years that he’d soon retire from the TV staple he’s starred on since 1981.
While the show has not yet announced plans for a replacement, a few contenders have already emerged.
J. Chris Newberg, who’s produced game shows including The Chase and Beat Shazam, tells Yahoo Entertainment that splitting up the pairing of Sajak and letter-turner Vanna White is “the end of an era.”
“I don’t know what type of person should [host next], but if they are smart, they will take the same approach as the other Merv Griffin show,” Newberg says of Jeopardy!, “and have a bunch of celebs till they see who clicks and is liked most by the audience. Likability is key in game show.”
Here’s a rundown of who’s being discussed — and who wants to be the new host:
White appeared alongside Pat Sajak when the syndicated version of the show premiered in September 1983. Since then, the now 66-year-old has helped contestants uncover the correct phrase and chatted with Sajak at the top and bottom of thousands of episodes, but she’s also taken on main hosting duties at times.
In December 2019 and January 2020, White filled in for Sajak when he underwent an emergency surgery, but she went back to her post when he returned. The two have long been a team.
She had a heartfelt response to his news: “When we started @WheelofFortune who could have imagined we’d still be at it 41 seasons? I couldn’t be happier to have shared the stage with you for all these years with one more to come. Cheers to you, @patsajak!”
Game show producer Newberg, for one, would approve of White stepping up to the show’s top spot.
“If Vanna wants it, zero people would have a problem with it. But also, again, just like Jeopardy!, new blood is cool. I’d like to see someone funny and quick witted. Whoopi [Goldberg] would be exciting, but I fear it may become too political.”
He jokingly suggests as hosts: “the entire BTS Band. They would be a ratings spike for sure.”
Pat’s daughter, who joined the show as social correspondent in 2021, providing backstage digital content, has remained enthusiastic about Wheel in the face of her father’s departure.
“It’s so much fun working with my dad,” she commented on social media, “and we’re looking forward to even more fun in Season 41.”
The younger Sajak has turned the letters, too, as she filled in for White in May, when White was a contestant on a celebrity version of their game.
Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw, who was the first to report Sajak’s departure, tweeted within hours that the perennial TV host, whose credits include American Idol, Live With Kelly and Ryan and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, is in the running.
“One candidate to replace Pat Sajak? @RyanSeacrest,” Shaw wrote. “The host has been talking to the producers of Wheel of Fortune. Some sources say he’s the frontrunner. Others say he is just one of many interested.”
While he did depart his morning show with Kelly Ripa in April, Seacrest still has his many other roles, which include radio host and TV producer, not to mention American Idol mainstay.
The longtime host of daytime’s The View quickly offered herself up as a candidate. It happened when Jeopardy! host Ken Jennings appeared on her current show on June 13.
When he was asked to comment, he didn’t give a real answer, and brought up Jeopardy!‘s own “succession crisis” in 2021 following the death of its own longtime host, Alex Trebek.
But Goldberg’s co-host Joy Behar quickly offered, “Whoopi wants the job.”
Goldberg piped up, “I want that job. I think it would be tons of fun.” (It happens at 4:09 in the clip below.)
And Goldberg is familiar with game shows, having served as both a producer and the center square on Hollywood Squaresfrom 1998 to 2004.
The View co-host Sarah Haines is an example of someone who sits at the table and hosts a game show. She’s moderated ABC primetime’s The Chase since its 2021 debut.
Who will replace Pat Sajak on ‘Wheel of Fortune’? Who will replace Pat Sajak on ‘Wheel of Fortune’?