LOS ANGELES (AP) — Pat Sajak is taking one last spin on “Wheel of Fortune,” announcing Monday that its upcoming season will be his last as host.
Sajak, who has had a home in Severna Park, Maryland, since 1999, announced his retirement from the venerable game show in a tweet.
“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,” the tweet said.
Sajak is a well-known figure in Anne Arundel County. He splits his time between Severna Park and Los Angeles, and a pavilion at Anne Arundel Medical Center is named after Sajak and his wife, Lesly, who have financially supported the Annapolis-area hospital. In 2001, the Sajaks donated $1 million for a new breast center, according to a 2006 profile in The Baltimore Sun.
Two years ago, Sajak sold the radio station he had owned for more than 20 years, WNAV-AM.
Sajak, 76, has presided over the game show, which features contestants guessing letters to try to fill out words and phrases to win money and prizes, since 1981. He took over duties from Chuck Woolery, who was the show’s first host when it debuted in 1975. Prior to that, he served in the Army, hosting a morning show from Saigon for Armed Forces Radio during the Vietnam War, and held other radio and TV jobs.
Along with Vanna White, who joined “Wheel” in 1982, Sajak has been a television mainstay. The show soon shifted to a syndication and aired in the evening in many markets, becoming one of the most successful game shows in history. Sajak will continue to serve as a consultant on the show for three years after his retirement as host.
“As the host of Wheel of Fortune, Pat has entertained millions of viewers across America for 40 amazing years. We are incredibly grateful and proud to have had Pat as our host for all these years and we look forward to celebrating his outstanding career throughout the upcoming season,” said Suzanne Prete, executive vice president of game shows for Sony Pictures Television.
In recent years, some of Sajak’s banter and chiding of contestants have become fodder for social media. That prompted Sajak to remark in his retirement post about doing another season: “(If nothing else, it’ll keep the clickbait sites busy!)”
On Tuesday, Vanna White chimed in with praise of her own, tweeting: “When we started @WheelofFortune who could have imagined we’d still be at it 41 seasons later? 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!”
Banner staff contributed to this report.