Pat Sajak Announces He’s Leaving ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ But This Isn’t the First Time He Left the Show

Pat Sajak is outlining his path toward retirement. The 76-year-old, who has hosted Wheel of Fortune for more than four decades, recently announced that he’ll be leaving the show in 2024 – following his 41st season as host. Sajak made the announcement on Twitter, just three days after Season 40 concluded. 

“Well, the time has come. I’ve decided that our 41st season, which begins in September, will be my last. It’s been a wonderful ride, and I’ll have more to say in the coming months. Many thanks to you all. (If nothing else, it’ll keep the clickbait sites busy!),” the game show host tweeted on Monday (June 12). 

Even after 40 years, Pat Sajak has helped the show maintain its title as one of the most popular TV programs in the United States. Just a few weeks ago (the week starting May 22), more than 7.7 million people tuned into Wheel of Fortune on average – the only program to beat it was Jeopardy! (8.2 million).

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The announcement shocked many, but it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise – in fact, he hinted at this day during an interview with ABC News in 2019. “I’m not getting any younger,” he said, revealing his plan to leave in a ‘couple of years’ – adding he’d rather do so a couple of years ‘too early’ than ‘too late.’

It’s also not the first time he has left the show. Many people might not remember, but Pat Sajak initially left the show in 1989 – roughly six years after he joined as host – to focus on his late-night talk program, The Pat Sajak Show. At the time, he was replaced by former San Diego Chargers’ kicker, Rolf Benirschke.

Wheel of Fortune producers liked his enthusiasm for the show and thought he paired well with Vanna White, but many viewers disagreed. He only lasted six months before ratings dipped and NBC pulled the daytime version of the show. It was later picked up by CBS and they replaced Benirschke with Bob Goen.

Sajak returned to the show several years later and has been the host ever since. While he’ll be retiring after his 41st season (which starts in September 2023 and ends sometime in Spring 2024), he’ll remain with the show as a consultant for three years. It’s unclear at this time if Vanna White plans on staying. 

Rolf Benirschke Discusses Replacing Pat Sajak

Over the past four decades, Rolf Benirschke has spoken openly about his time as host of Wheel of Fortune. He described being nervous (since he wasn’t a regular viewer of the show) and admitted it took time to learn the rules, but he enjoyed the experience and was appreciative of all who made it happen. 

In a recent interview with, Benirschke was asked if he has any advice for whoever replaces Pat Sajak as host. “I’m probably not the right guy to give advice. I think we have to live our lives, given the skills and capabilities that we have, and who we are, not trying to be somebody different,” he said. 

Replacing Pat Sajak won’t be easy – in fact, it’ll be just as hard as trying to replace Alex Trebek on Jeopardy! As of right now, CBS hasn’t revealed any potential replacements. Whoever it is will be under a great deal of pressure as they try to avoid what happened in 1989 when Sajak left for the first time. 

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“I think people recognize who’s authentic and who’s trying to be somebody they’re not. So I think in anything, when you look at anybody on TV, the people you gravitate to the most are the people you connect with, empathize with, see their humanity,” Benirschke continued.

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