After several weeks of rumors, it’s now official — Ryan Seacrest will replace Pat Sajak as the host of Wheel of Fortune at the conclusion of the show’s upcoming 41st season, which starts in September.
“I’m truly humbled to be stepping into the footsteps of the legendary Pat Sajak. I can say, along with the rest of America, that it’s been a privilege and pure joy to watch Pat and Vanna [White] on our television screens for an unprecedented 40 years, making us smile every night and feel right at home with them,” Seacrest wrote in an Instagram post confirming the news, which was first rumored by Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw when he broke the news of Sajak’s departure.
Sajak recently confirmed that he’d be stepping away from the beloved game show, writing of his departure that “the time has come” and “it’s been a wonderful ride.”
The open gig became instantly coveted around town, with The View host Whoopi Goldberg publicly lobbying for it, but in the end, Seacrest was deemed the perfect fit for Wheel of Fortune, and he brings star power to the show, having hosted American Idol since its inception, as well as several Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve telecasts.\
Seacrest had also been looking for a new gig after exiting as co-host of Live With Kelly and Ryan, which he co-hosted alongside Kelly Ripa. The morning show won them a Daytime Emmy, just as Sajak won three statues as the host of Wheel of Fortune, which he’ll continue to serve as a consultant on after handing over hosting duties to Seacrest.
As for White, she’s in negotiations to continue with the show, offering longtime fans some stability — though she’s overdue for a raise, having not received one in 18 years, according to Puck News. Sony Pictures Television would love to have her back, though I can’t imagine that Seacrest came cheap.
“I couldn’t be happier to have shared the stage with you for all these years with one more to come,” White wrote to Sajak in response to his exit announcement. She has yet to weigh in on Seacrest’s hiring, and likely won’t until her team concludes negotiations with Sony.
Seacrest is a major coup for Wheel of Fortune, which I expect will experience a ratings bounce upon his arrival, and the show feels like a good fit for the affable Seacrest as well. If only the Jeopardy! transition had gone this smoothly…