“Congrats on your next chapter @ryanseacrest. I love you like a brother,” the Riverdale actor, 51, captioned an Instagram photo of himself sitting beside Ripa, 52, and the American Idol host, 48, on Thursday, February 16. “I know I have some big shoes to fill … well actually they’re only a size 9, but you know what I mean.”
Consuelos went on to praise his spouse, adding: “@kellyripa my ride or die. This is going to be amazing! I can’t believe after all these years of listening to you talk for free, I found a way to get paid for it. Is this a great country or what?”
Seacrest appeared alongside Ripa on the daytime series for nearly six years before announcing his departure on Thursday. “Working alongside Kelly over the past six years has been a dream job and one of the highlights of my career. She has been an amazing partner, friend, and confidant, and although we will always be a part of each other’s lives, I will miss our mornings together,” he noted in a statement. “I also want to thank Michael Gelman and the entire staff and crew – we’ve made memories to last a lifetime, met some of the most incredible people and had the warmest welcome into the homes of so many viewers across America.”
The radio host concluded: “It’s been a memorable ride and now I’m excited to pass the baton to Kelly’s ‘real’ husband, Mark.”
While Ripa has been a mainstay on Live since 2001, initially cohosting with the late Regis Philbin, Seacrest joined the show in 2017. The former soap opera actress gushed over working with Seacrest in a glowing farewell message on Thursday.
“I’m so grateful to have spent the last six years beside my dear friend of too many decades to count and will miss starting my days with Ryan,” she said in a statement. “Ryan’s energy, passion and love for entertainment is one-of-a-kind.”
The Georgia native shed light on his “bittersweet” decision to leave Live With Kelly and Ryan during Thursday’s episode, explaining that it was “tough” to say goodbye to the show. Seacrest noted that he hopes to guest host when his busy schedule allows, revealing that he initially only signed a three-season contract but chose to extend his stay.
“As a dear friend coming in, but as a best friend in this moment, to have your kindness, your thoughtfulness, your levity, your friendship, I look up to you,” he told Ripa. “I respect you so much. I love the fact that we get a chance to sit here every day and connect with you at home, in your kitchens, in your living rooms at work. There’s nothing like this on television. … Three [years] turned into six because of the genuine fun of being on this television show every hour of every weekday. I love you so much.”
The colleagues confirmed that Consuelos, who exchanged vows with the Live Wire author in 1996, will be stepping in as cohost. Before officially joining the syndicated talk show, the All My Children alum filled in for Seacrest on a few occasions over the years.
“We are so aware of the importance of continuity and consistency and, like, the familial vibe that we all have here. It only makes sense to not just our viewing audience at home, but our audience here within our staff, our support system, our extended family, to bring in somebody that we know and love and who’s really always been here,” Ripa explained to viewers on Thursday. “The only person I can think of that is capable of, you know, holding your torch the way you have held it. And that would be, my husband, Mark Consuelos, in what Ryan and I are calling the nation’s weirdest social experiment.”
Consuelos is set to appear as a guest on the Friday, February 17, episode of Live. He shares three children — Michael, 25, Lola, 21, and Joaquin, 19 — with Ripa.