“Well, the time has come,” the game show host, 76, said in a statement to Bloomberg News on Monday, June 12. “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.”
Before making the official announcement, the Chicago native hinted at his inevitable departure during a September 2022 interview with Entertainment Tonight.
“We’re getting near the end,” the game show legend told the outlet at the time. “We’re not gonna do this for another 40 years. The end is near.”
The beloved daytime program debuted in 1975 with Chuck Woolery as the host. Sajak began hosting in 1981, meaning he has helmed the popular series for almost its entire run on the air.
“It’s an honor to have been in people’s living rooms for that long,” Sajak told ET. “People were out there welcoming us. We’re happy and proud.”
The Daytime Emmy winner also joked that he “may go before the show” goes off the air. “In most television shows by this time, you would have said, ‘That’s probably enough,’ but this show will not die,” he added.
Sajak broke the Guinness World Record for longest-running game show host in 2019 — surpassing Bob Barker, who hosted The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007. In 2021, the former radio show host celebrated his 40th anniversary on the show by sharing a few interesting facts that detailed just how long he had been on the program.
“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 tweeted in December 2021. “Ronald Reagan was in his 1st year as president. Number 1 song: Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Physical.’”
In November 2019, the Columbia College Chicago alum took his first — and only — break from hosting when he underwent emergency surgery for a blocked intestine.
“It felt really bizarre to know that stuff was going on without me. And going on well without me,” Sajak told ABC News in December 2019. “We did have a chance to talk a little bit. But there’s not much I could tell her. She knows the way the show works. I just tried to be encouraging and help out on that level. But she had fun with it.”
He went on to admit that his health scare was a serious matter — he briefly thought he wouldn’t survive.
“I remember thinking, not in a morbid way, ‘I think this must be death. This must be what death is like,’” he said, recalling a moment when he heard his wife, Lesly Brown, and their daughter, Maggie, talking in his hospital room. “Hearing their voices, I thought, ‘Boy, their lives are gonna change now.’ And I felt badly for them. I didn’t feel badly about dying. I felt badly that they were gonna have to deal with the aftermath.”