“We’re getting near the end,” the game show legend, 75, told Entertainment Tonight on Thursday, September 15. “We’re not gonna do this for another 40 years. The end is near.”
The Chicago native has been hosting the beloved series since 1981, meaning that he has helmed the program for almost its entire run. Wheel of Fortune debuted in 1975 with Chuck Woolery as the host.
“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.
In 2019, Sajak broke the Guinness World Record for longest-running game show host, surpassing Bob Barker, who hosted The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007. Two years later, he celebrated his 40th anniversary on the series by sharing a few fun facts that emphasized just how long he’d been hosting 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 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 TV personality took his first — and only — break from hosting the show when he underwent emergency surgery for a blocked intestine. Vanna White, who joined Wheel of Fortune in 1982, filled in for him.
“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.”
The Columbia College Chicago graduate also admitted that his health scare was serious enough that 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.”