Wheel of Fortune had a very different holiday spirit going for it as 2019 came to a close, due to Pat Sajak's emergency surgery keeping him off the air for a few weeks. The longtime host returned to his regular duties recently, but viewers will notice Sajak is once again absent this week (though it's unrelated to his previous health issues). Vanna White once again filled in the role of host, while a very special guest stepped up as the new letter-turner: Maggie Sajak.
Just as the nightly game show had previously welcomed Disney characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse as guest letter-turners, Wheel of Fortune stayed closer to home for its latest surprise addition by bringing in Pat Sajak's daughter Maggie. After all, Mickey and Minnie are probably pretty busy with their own day jobs.
As it stands, the younger Sajak will stick around for the full week to fill in for Vanna White as she continues honing her hosting skills in Pat's absence, which is something she wasn't very comfortable with in the beginning. Viewers noticed White's performance hiccups as the days went by, since social media lets no one off the hook, but reactions have been positive overall. Maggie Sajak shouldn't have as much of a learning curve when it comes to touching the letters, though, which involves much less scripted speech.
Check out the video below, in which Pat Sajak introduces his daughter Maggie's professional Wheel of Fortune debut.
The best part of that video is obviously the flashback to Maggie Sajak's real debut on Wheel of Fortune, which happened back when she was just a year old. As lovely as she is as an adult, how fun would it be to have her one-year-old self serving as the letter-turner? Wait, did I say "fun?" I probably meant to say "nerve-wracking and catastrophic."
But still, who wouldn't want to buy a vowel from this li'l stinker?
Pat Sajak is back to good health after that scary situation, and obviously felt good enough to return to his hosting duties for Wheel of Fortune. It hasn't been the best year for game show hosts' medical conditions. While Sajak's emergency surgery isn't something meant to affect the rest of his life, Jeopardy! frontman Alex Trebek has gone through multiple rounds of chemotherapy to try and combat the Stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis he received earlier in the year. Trebek isn't planning on retiring just yet, but he's close enough at this point to have already planned exactly how he wants to say goodbye. Here's to a 2020 without further medical traumas for game show hosts.
It'll be interesting to see if this temporary TV stint inspires Maggie Sajak to shoot for a more permanent position on-camera. You know what they say. "You can take the man out of Wheel of Fortune, but you can't take the Wheel of Fortune out of that man's family." I believe that's close enough, anyway.
Wheel of Fortune airs every night in syndication, so check your local listings to see when and where the game show plays in your area. And to stay updated on all the new shows hitting primetime in upcoming months, head to our Winter and Spring 2020 TV schedule.