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Pat Sajak marks 40th anniversary as host of ‘Wheel of Fortune’

He began hosting the show back in 1981 when it first aired on network daytime television.
ABC's "Celebrity Wheel of Fortune"
"Wheel of Fortune" hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White.Eric McCandless / ABC via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Pat Sajak is extending his lead as the longest-running game show host in television history. 

On Tuesday, the “Wheel of Fortune” host celebrated his 40th anniversary as the face of the show.

Sajak, 75, celebrated the historic achievement by tweeting a few fun facts that emphasize how long he has been a part of “Wheel of Fortune.”

 “When I started hosting ‘Wheel’ (with Susan Stafford) on this date 40 years ago, the top 10 TV shows included ‘Dallas,’ ‘Three’s Company,’ ‘The Jeffersons’ and ‘The Dukes of Hazzard,’” he shared. “Ronald Reagan was in his 1st year as president. Number 1 song: Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Physical.’”

“Wheel of Fortune” originally began in 1975 as a daytime series on NBC. In 1981, Sajak stepped in to replace former host Chuck Woolery alongside Susan Stafford. 

The current version of the game show premiered on Sept. 19, 1983. Stafford eventually left in 1982 and current co-host Vanna White, 64, took the spot. 

On March 22, 2019, Guinness World Records recognized Sajak for having the “longest career as a game show host for the same show.” 

Since he joined “Wheel of Fortune,” Sajak has been nominated for a whopping 19 Emmys for his hosting duties and has walked away with the award three times. 

Maggie Sajak, 26, also honored her dad’s special anniversary by posting a throwback picture from his early days as the host. “Happy 40th Wheel-iversary to this guy!” she wrote. “On this day in 1981, @patsajak hosted his very first episode of @WheelofFortune…and the rest is history!”

Sajak’s daughter became a member of the “Wheel of Fortune” family in September when she was named the show’s new online correspondent.

She posts exclusive videos, behind-the-scenes clips and interviews with the show’s hosts and contestants to the “Wheel of Fortune”’s website and social media accounts. Maggie Sajak briefly had a stint on the show in January 2020 when she took over White’s letter-turning duties. Her father was recovering from an emergency surgery at the time and White acted as the main host. 

To celebrate her new title, Maggie Sajak posted a family photo on Instagram that showed her and brother Patrick, 31, as children with their father and mother, Lesly Brown-Sajak, 56. The family of four are standing next to the show’s classic roulette-style wheel in the snap.

“Memories on the @wheeloffortune set (before I learned how to look at the right camera),” she joked in the caption.