The popular game show Wheel of Fortune may have just solved its biggest puzzle of all: Finding a new host. On Tuesday, Sony Pictures Television announced that Ryan Seacrest will take over the show from Pat Sajak, and the former American Idol host took to social media to gush about it.
“I’m truly humbled to be stepping into the footsteps of the legendary Pat Sajak,” Seacrest said in a statement post on his Instagram. “I can say, along with the rest of America, that it’s been a privilege and pure joy to watch Pat and Vanna on our television screens for an unprecedented 40 years, making us smile every night and feel right at home with them.”
Naturally, you might have some questions about the show change and whether or not its beloved hostess Vanna White, who has recently lawyered up, will stay on — more on that below.
Is Ryan Seacrest Wheel of Fortune‘s new host?
Ryan Seacrest will replace Pat Sajak as the host of Wheel of Fortune starting next year. Sony stated they’ve signed him to a multi-year deal for the game show, where he’ll also serve as a consulting producer.
Seacrest, as one of the most recognizable media personalities, was seen as a top contender for the gig. This also isn’t his first rodeo — he’s the host and producer of Los Angeles’s top-rated morning radio show for iHeartMedia’s 102.7 KIIS-FM. He also previously co-hosted the ABC News morning program Live with Kelly and Ryan alongside Kelly Ripa for six seasons before departing this year. But you probably first remember him as the host of ABC’s singing competition show American Idol for 21 seasons or caught home on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, which he’s hosted since 2005.
What is Ryan Seacrest’s salary?
While Sony hasn’t revealed Seacrest’s Wheel of Fortune salary yet, he isn’t exactly a newbie when it comes to hosting massively popular shows. According to Forbes, he makes $1 million for each year of the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve special — not bad for one night. Forbes also says he was making over $10 million per year as the co-host of Live with Kelly and Ryan, so we can expect his new gig to net him something in that ballpark.
What we do know is that Seacrest’s salary at the game show probably won’t come cheap. In 2016, Forbes reported that Pat Sajak was earning $15 million per year as the face of the game show. White, meanwhile, was earning a fraction of that — $3 million per year — and in late June, she started negotiating a new contract with the show after not receiving a pay raise in 18 years. Now that Sajak is exiting, she is said to have hired powerhouse attorney Bryan Freedman, who recently represented ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson and former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. But it remains to be seen how that will shake out.
Who else was considered for hosting Wheel of Fortune?
Before Seacrest, several people had been floated, starting with the game’s legendary hostess, Vanna White, who has been part of the show since 1982. Throughout her long run, White has briefly taken over hosting duties from time to time — for instance, she filled in for Sajak, when he underwent an emergency surgery to fix a blocked intestine. But it looks like White will stick to letter-turning — at least for the near future.
There were a couple of other names considered, including everyone from Sajak’s daughter Maggie Sajak to Whoopi Goldberg and Andy Cohen. Goldberg was actually floated as a potential host by the show’s producer, J. Chris Newberg. “I’d like to see someone funny and quick-witted. Whoopi [Goldberg] would be exciting, but I fear it may become too political,” he said.
Why is Pat Sajak leaving Wheel of Fortune?
On June 12, Pat Sajak announced that he was stepping down in 2024 and retiring from his hosting duties after 41 seasons. According to The New York Times, he plans to stay on as a consultant for another three years.
But Sajak’s exit didn’t come as a total shock: In an interview with Entertainment Tonight in 2022, he said that he expected to go before the show, adding the “end is near.” After taking hosting duties over from Chuck Woolery in 1981, he helped turn “Wheel of Fortune” into a pop-culture phenomenon that drew more than 40 million viewers per day at one point. He even went on to win three Daytime Emmys and one Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement award for his work hosting the show.
Needless to say, Seacrest has some big shoes to fill, but it appears he’s ready and willing. In his announcement, he pointed out that one of his first shows he ever hosted was the game show “Click,” which was created by “Wheel of Fortune” creator Merv Griffin.
“This is truly a full circle moment for me and I’m grateful to Sony for the opportunity,” he said. I can’t wait to continue the tradition of spinning the wheel and working alongside the great Vanna White.”