Vanna White Was 'Not Comfortable' Hosting Wheel Of Fortune, Pat Sajak Says

vanna and pat wheel of fortune
(Image credit: cbs press)

Few TV celebrities have achieved a career like Vanna White, who is one of the most recognizable game show personalities on the planet, though not ever for being a host. For 35 years, White has been the letter-turning co-star to genial frontman Pat Sajak on Wheel of Fortune, but Sajak's scary health issues of late left producers with the need to quickly find a stand-in replacement. And even though she appears to be having a blast up there, Sajak revealed she was 'very nervous' to take on the temporary hosting gig.

Surely, you can watch someone do a job for decades on end without ever committing to memory every single one of the details that goes into the job. As such, Vanna White could have easily balked at taking on the hosting gig, which she'd only done once before. But she didn't, and Pat Sajak commended highly for it. In his words:

What a trooper. And I’m not being condescending in any way ’cause it would’ve been well within her rights to say, ‘Wait a minute, this is not what you’re payin’ me for. This is not what I do. And I’d rather not.’ But she’s a team player. And she was very nervous and not comfortable 'cause it's a role she's not [used to].

Had Pat Sajak been going on a month-long vacation that had been booked and planned months ahead of time, it's possible that the Wheel of Fortune producers might have reached out to other entertainers to gauge their interest in taking a weeks-long hosting residency. However, because Sajak's health situation was of the emergency variety, the pressure was on to find a worthy substitute. Thankfully, though, arguably the best option possible was already in prime position, even if she was used to standing about 30 feet away.

Vanna White apparently hasn't reached peak confidence and fearlessness as the Wheel of Fortune host, and it has been occasionally obvious when watching the episodes. She's had a little trouble here and there while working out the kinks, but nothing that hasn't necessarily happened to Pat Sajak a time or two in his 38 years as host. (It might even be comparable to playing armchair contestant versus actually facing the pressure of messing up on TV.)

During his interview with Good Morning America, Pat Sajak shared the priceless advice he gave to Vanna White when taking on the hosting duties:

The first thing I said to her was do not go on social media. Because there are gonna be people who are jerks and they're going to say nasty things because they can. Because they can communicate with you directly, they can be anonymous. I don't understand why people have to be so nasty. She's out there going her best, she didn't ask to be put in this position.

Pat Sajak is no stranger to social media, where he shares his conservative humor on a regular basis. Vanna White also has her own social media accounts, of course, but her posts are a lot more balanced and purposefully strive not to provoke emotionally impulsive responses from fans. Entering a bigger spotlight only draws more trolls, too, so she's been mostly quiet on the social scene since taking over hosting duties.

Vanna White took on Wheel of Fortune's hosting duties for three weeks, with Disney friends like Mickey and Minnie Mouse helping out, but Pat Sajak says he's not overtly suspicious of White for possibly wanting to take his job away from him. Here, he joked about needing to watch his back in the future:

The next day [after health scare] she was at the studio taping and she did a great job. So I did find she does like hosting and I'm a little nervous, but not all that nervous. When I went back taping last week, she brought in some homemade cupcakes and I did have someone else taste mine first before I ate it. Just in case. I don't think she'd do anything to me.

If one of the upcoming final round answers is "R.I.P. Pat Sajak," it might be a good time for the host to hire some bodyguards.

Wheel of Fortune airs weeknights in syndication, so be sure to check your local listings to see when and where it is playing in your market, and get ready to see Pat Sajak returning to the airwaves at some point soon. And don't forget to check out all the other big shows on the way with our 2020 spring and winter TV schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.