Pat Sajak

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Pat Sajak
National Memorial Day Parade, Grand Marshall, Pat Sajak, Mon 30 May 2011 (11).jpg
Sajak in 2011
Patrick Leonard Sajdak

(1946-10-26) October 26, 1946 (age 75)
Alma materColumbia College Chicago
Years active1968–present
Notable credit(s)
Wheel of Fortune (1981–present)
Political partyRepublican[1]
  • Sherrill Sajak
    (m. 1979; div. 1986)
  • Lesly Brown-Sajak
    (m. 1989)
Children2, including Maggie Sajak

Pat Sajak (/ˈsæk/ SAY-jak, born Patrick Leonard Sajdak;[2] October 26, 1946) is an American television personality and game show host. He is best known as the host of the American television game show Wheel of Fortune, a position he has held since 1981. For his work on Wheel, Sajak has received 19 nominations for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host, winning three times.

Early life[edit]

Born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 26, 1946,[2] Sajak graduated from Farragut High School in 1964,[3] then went to Columbia College Chicago while working as a desk clerk at the Palmer House hotel.[3]

He served in the U.S. Army as a disc jockey during the Vietnam War for American Forces Vietnam Network.[4] Sajak hosted the same Dawn Buster radio show that Adrian Cronauer had, and for 14 months followed Cronauer's tradition of signing on with "Good Morning Vietnam!"[5]


Sajak won a contest on WLS radio's Dick Biondi Show to be a guest teen deejay. While at Columbia College Chicago, his broadcasting instructor Al Parker told him that a local radio station (WEDC) was looking for a newsman. Sajak applied for the job and was hired to work from midnight to 6:00 am. In 1968, Sajak joined the U.S. Army and was sent to Vietnam, where he served as a disc jockey on Armed Forces Radio. On the Military Channel's program, An Officer and a Movie, Sajak admitted to botching President Richard Nixon's 1969 Christmas broadcast to the troops; he accidentally cut the feed off prematurely. Upon realizing the error, he decided it would be best not to resume the feed. In the early 1970s, Sajak DJed for a Murray, Kentucky, radio station for a year.[6] Also in the early 1970s, Sajak began DJing at 50,000-watt WSM in Nashville; at the time, WSM was playing pop music during the day, and he was the 3:00–5:00 pm afternoon personality. The radio station's television sister, WSM-TV (now WSMV), brought Sajak on screen, first as a voiceover artist doing station identifications and anchoring the five-minute newscasts during NBC's Today Show, then as a weekend and substitute weatherman, where he became acquainted with anchor Dan Miller. In 1977, KNBC-TV in Los Angeles was looking for a weatherman, and spotted Sajak working in Nashville. Sajak accepted KNBC's request for him to be a full-time weatherman for the station.

In 1981, Merv Griffin asked Sajak if he would be interested in taking over the duties as host on Wheel of Fortune from Chuck Woolery. However, Fred Silverman, the president and CEO of NBC, rejected his hiring, claiming he was too local, and Griffin responded by imposing a moratorium on new tapings until Sajak was hired.[7] The issue became moot when Silverman was dismissed due to repeated programming failures and replaced by Brandon Tartikoff. Sajak, who had already hosted two game show pilots in 1980, Press Your Luck for Ralph Edwards (no relation to the 1983 CBS game show of the same name) and Puzzlers for Mark Goodson, accepted the position. He hosted both the daytime (NBC) and syndicated evening versions of Wheel from 1983 to 1989, and continues to host the latter version. With Sajak returning for his 36th season in 2018–19, he became the longest-running host of any game show, surpassing Bob Barker, who hosted The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007. Sajak was officially honored as such by the Guinness World Records with the episode taped on March 28, 2019, and aired May 8, 2019 (two days before the primetime version's 7,000th episode).[8]

Sajak had a small role as a Buffalo, New York, a newscaster in the 1982 comedy film Airplane II: The Sequel. When his late-night talk show on CBS premiered in January 1989, he left the daytime version of Wheel, and was replaced by former San Diego Chargers place-kicker Rolf Benirschke (who was later replaced by Bob Goen when the daytime show moved to CBS in July of that year). Sajak appeared on Super Password several times from 1984 to 1989, as well as Password Plus in 1981, shortly before taking on hosting duties on Wheel. Other game shows on which Sajak appeared as a celebrity guest were Dream House, Just Men!, and Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour.

Sajak hosted a short-lived late-night talk show on CBS from January 9, 1989, to April 13, 1990.[9] Dan Miller, Sajak's old friend and former anchor at WSM-TV in Nashville, joined Sajak as his sidekick.[10] Sajak later became a frequent guest host for CNN's Larry King Live when King was unable to attend.[11] He also became a regular substitute host for Regis Philbin on the syndicated Live with Regis and Kelly.[12] Sajak also hosted a program, Pat Sajak Weekend, on the Fox News Channel in 2003.[13] From at least 2002, he hosted The Pat Sajak Baseball Hour, a syndicated weekly radio sports talk show that ended in 2006 due to scheduling conflicts.[14][15]

Sajak is an external director of conservative publishing house Eagle Publishing[16] and is on the board of trustees at Hillsdale College in southern Michigan, currently as vice chairman.[17] He has written for Human Events and served on the board of directors for the Claremont Institute.

In 1983, Sajak portrayed Kevin Hathaway in the NBC daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives.

In 1993, Sajak appeared as himself on the popular children's cartoon show Rugrats.[18]

Sajak in 2006 hosting Wheel of Fortune

In 1997, Sajak pulled an April Fool's Day prank on fans when Vanna White and he were contestants on an episode of Wheel hosted by Alex Trebek. The winnings of both Sajak and White were donated to charity (in this case, the American Cancer Society and the Boy Scouts of America). In return, Sajak hosted a regular episode of Jeopardy! in place of Trebek. He also appeared at the beginning of a 2010 April Fool's episode, along with Jeff Probst and Neil Patrick Harris.

In 2001, he appeared as himself in the episode "Inner Tube" on the sitcom The King of Queens.

Sajak began writing for the National Review Online in 2010. In his first post, he questioned whether public employees should be allowed to vote on issues that would benefit them directly.[19][20] He also has contributed to the center-right sociopolitical / social networking website,[21][22]

Sajak also is the author of several puzzle games, the first and best-known of them being "Lucky Letters", which debuted in 2007. The games, which Sajak developed with puzzle developer David L. Hoyt, are syndicated through Universal Uclick.[23]

Sajak has also appeared on episodes of ESPN Radio's The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, as well as Le Batard's other show, Highly Questionable.[24][25]

On May 8, 2019, Sajak broke the world record for having the longest career as game-show host for the same show, hosting Wheel of Fortune for 35 years and 198 days.[26]

Since 2020, Sajak has been credited as a Consulting Producer (since the start of Season 39) of Wheel of Fortune.

In 2021, Sajak and White hosted Celebrity Wheel of Fortune on ABC.[27]

In September 2021, it was announced that both Sajak and White had signed on to continue as hosts of Wheel of Fortune through the 2023–24 season.[28] In 2021, Sajak voiced a singing bust in a Muppets Haunted Mansion television special.[29]

In popular culture[edit]

Sajak with Vanna White in 2006

Pat Sajak was parodied in a 1980s Sesame Street sketch, with a Muppet named Pat Playjacks hosting "Squeal of Fortune". The goal was for the contestants (Prairie Dawn and The Count) to guess how many times a pig in the center of the wheel would squeal before the wheel stopped.[30]

During the 1980s, comedian Martin Short frequently portrayed a fictional character he called Ed Grimley, a hyperactive manchild who is obsessed with banal popular culture – Sajak in particular – on the sketch comedy television shows SCTV and Saturday Night Live.

In 1986, Sajak and his Wheel of Fortune co-star Vanna White portrayed themselves on an episode of the NBC sitcom 227.

In the fourth episode of season three of Comedy Central's Brickleberry, "That Brother's My Father", Pat Sajak gets kidnapped and becomes a hostage to the wheel of fortune.

In the 1994 Rugrats episode "Chuckie is Rich", Pat Sajak awards Chaz with $10 million. His son, Pat Sajak Jr., also appeared in the episode as one of the children in the wealthy daycare. Pat Sajak also voices himself in the episode.

In the fourth-season episode of The A-Team called "Wheel of Fortune", Pat Sajak makes a cameo along with co-star Vanna White. In the episode, Murdock wins big at Wheel of Fortune due to Face's system of guessing the letters correctly.

In 1992, Sajak was a special guest star in the TV show The Commish. The episode first aired on November 7, 1992, and was called "The Two Faces Of Ed". He played psychologist Brian Brandon.

Personal life[edit]

Sajak is married to Lesly Brown-Sajak, a photographer, with whom he has a son, Patrick Michael James Sajak (born September 22, 1990), and a daughter, Margaret Marie Sajak (born January 5, 1995). The couple lives in Severna Park, Maryland,[31] with a second home in Los Angeles, California.[32]

In 2005, Sajak became an investor in the Golden Baseball League, an independent professional baseball league with teams in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Alberta, British Columbia, and Baja California.[33][34] During a guest appearance in the broadcast booth at a March 2012 Baltimore Orioles – Boston Red Sox spring-training game,[35] Sajak acknowledged that he had called some baseball games in the past.

Sajak is featured in a brief film shown at the visitor's center at Mount Vernon, the residence of George Washington, where he explains to tourists the attractions of the site.[36][37] Sajak owns Maryland-based AM radio station WNAV in Annapolis (since 1998).

Sajak has written a number of columns for the conservative magazine Human Events.[38] Sajak is also a regular poster and podcast participant on the conservative blog[39] He has long acknowledged being a climate change skeptic.[40] He is also a financial supporter of the Young America's Foundation, which sponsors conservative speakers on college campuses.[41]

In 2019, Pat Sajak began serving as the chairman of the board of trustees for Hillsdale College[42][43] after having been vice-chairman for 15 years.[44]

Sajak is an avid fan of the Washington Capitals NHL team. He is a longtime season-ticket holder and made an on-ice appearance before game three of the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals.[45]


Sajak underwent emergency intestinal surgery to remove a blockage on November 8, 2019.[46][47] While Sajak recovered, co-host Vanna White hosted in his place. The first taping day in which Sajak was incapacitated was a Disney-themed Christmas episode week, and Disney characters took over White's role at the puzzle board for that week. Sajak's daughter Maggie also helped White for a week.[48][49][50][51]

Sajak returned to work on December 5, 2019.[52]


  1. ^ Elliot, Danielle (May 21, 2014). "Pat Sajak sparks Twitter backlash with 'unpatriotic racists' comment on climate change". CBS News. Retrieved December 10, 2020. he said he is a 'Conservative Republican ...'
  2. ^ a b "Pat Sajak Biography". Archived from the original on April 1, 2016. Retrieved October 15, 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Meet Pat Sajak". P.A.T. Productions and Uclick. Archived from the original on October 9, 2008. Retrieved November 15, 2009.
  4. ^ "Famous Veterans: Pat Sajak". Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  5. ^ Sajak, Pat (June 7, 2014). "'Wheel of Fortune' Host Pat Sajak Recounts His Days as an Army DJ". Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Shah, Diane K. (December 11, 1988). "The Good Fortunes of Pat Sajak". The New York Times. p. 4. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
  7. ^ Griffin, Merv. Merv: Making the Good Life Last. New York: Pocket Books, 2003, page 101
  8. ^ "'Wheel of Fortune' celebrates 2 milestones this week". WLUK-TV. May 8, 2019. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  9. ^ "CBS Television Cancels 'The Pat Sajak Show'". The New York Times. April 10, 1990. p. C16. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  10. ^ "Passings: Dan Miller". Los Angeles Times. April 10, 2009. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  11. ^ Sajak hosted at least eight episodes of Larry King Live, including December 26, 2000; May 3, 2001; May 7, 2001; May 8, 2001; May 9, 2001; May 10, 2001; June 4, 2001; and January 5, 2003, according to CNN transcripts.
  12. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (January 18, 2011). "Regis Philbin Leaving Live!: Who Should Replace Him?". TVLine. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  13. ^ "Pat Sajak Weekend". Fox News. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  14. ^ Deitsch, Richard (August 5, 2002). "Q+A Pat Sajak". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  15. ^ Hubbard, Ryan (March 10, 2008). "Pat Sajak quips he's used performing-enhancing drugs for Wheel of Fortune". Chicago Reader. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  16. ^ Regnery Publishing: "Eagle Publishing Corporate Information" Archived 2009-04-14 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Board of Trustees". Hillsdale College. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  18. ^ "Rugrats Episodes for 1993". Steve Mindykowski. Archived from the original on May 20, 2010. Retrieved October 28, 2009. Pat Sajak appeared as himself in this episode as the presenter of the $10 million check, as well as endorser of the magazine contest.
  19. ^ Sajak, Pat (October 13, 2010). "Public Employees and Elections: A Conflict of Interest?". National Review Online.
  20. ^ Amira, Dan (October 14, 2010). "Pat Sajak Should Stick to Telling People Which Letters Are in Certain Words and Phrases". New York Magazine.
  21. ^ "Pat Sajak Profile". Silent Cal Productions. Retrieved September 23, 2012.
  22. ^ American Veterans Center (May 25, 2011). "2011 National Memorial Day Parade Lineup". Archived from the original on December 24, 2017.
  23. ^ Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  24. ^ "Dan LeBatard & Stugotz". AM 790 The Ticket. Archived from the original on August 28, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2017. friends of the program ... Pat Sajak
  25. ^ Peters, Michah (December 12, 2014). "Pat Sajak rapped a few bars of a Rae Sremmurd song on Highly Questionable". For the Win. USA Today. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  26. ^ "Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak celebrates record-breaking career on popular gameshow". Guinness World Records. May 8, 2019. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  27. ^ Stone, Natalie. "Celebrity Wheel of Fortune Coming to ABC with Pat Sajak and Vanna White Set to Host". People. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  28. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (September 8, 2021). "Pat Sajak & Vanna White Sign On To Host 'Wheel Of Fortune' Through 2024".
  29. ^ Shuler, Skyler (September 11, 2021). "'Muppets Haunted Mansion' Adds Cameos to Play The Singing Busts". The DisInsider. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  30. ^ "Squeal of Fortune". YouTube.
  31. ^ "Pat Sajak's House in Severna Park, MD (#2)". May 18, 2009.
  32. ^ Barnhart, Aaron (May 12, 2005). "Wheel of Very Good Fortune for Sajak". Chicago Tribune.
  33. ^ Golden Baseball League Ownership Group (Biographies) Archived 2008-08-03 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ What is Pat Sajak’s net worth? and Is Pat Sajak Still Alive Or Dead? (, Retrieved October 22, 2021)
  35. ^ "Bobby Valentine Meets With 'Wheel of Fortune' Host Pat Sajak Prior to Red Sox-Orioles Game (Photo)". NESN. WordPress. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
  36. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (October 24, 2006). "Fleshing Out a Founding Father". The Washington Post.
  37. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (November 5, 2006). "George Washington: Surveyor, slave owner, soldier / New Mount Vernon exhibits reveal more facets of president". San Francisco Chronicle.
  38. ^ A list of articles by Pat Sajak online at Human Events magazine
  39. ^ "Membership – Ricochet".
  40. ^ "'Wheel of Fortune' Host Pat Sajak Under Fire for Global Warming Tweet?!". Fox News. May 21, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014. Sajak has long acknowledged that he is a climate change skeptic.
  41. ^ Saul, Stephanie (May 20, 2017). "The Conservative Force Behind Speeches Roiling College Campuses". The New York Times. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  42. ^ "Leadership". Hillsdale College. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  43. ^ Siacon, Aleanna. "'Wheel of Fortune's' Pat Sajak to chair Board of Trustees at Hillsdale College". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  44. ^ McGhee, Kaylee (April 25, 2019). "Sajak to take the helm on board of trustees". Hillsdale Collegian. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  45. ^ Zielonka, Adam (June 2, 2018). "Joe Gibbs, Pat Sajak, Sting among celebs supporting Capitals at Game 3". The Washington Times. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  46. ^ Haas, Mariah (November 8, 2019). "Wheel of Fortune' host Pat Sajak recovering from emergency surgery, Vanna White to fill in". Fox News. New York City: Fox Corporation. Archived from the original on November 9, 2019. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  47. ^ Telling, Gillian (November 8, 2019). "Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajak Recovering From Emergency Surgery; Vanna White to Host in His Absence". People. New York City. Archived from the original on November 9, 2019. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  48. ^ Ganz, Jami (January 7, 2020). "'Special letter-toucher' Maggie Sajak appears on 'Wheel of Fortune' as host dad Pat recovers from surgery". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  49. ^ Kubota, Samantha (November 8, 2019). "'Wheel of Fortune' taping interrupted for Pat Sajak emergency surgery, Vanna White to host". Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  50. ^ "Pat Sajak Sidelined By Emergency Surgery, Vanna White To Host". TMZ. November 8, 2019. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  51. ^ O'Kane, Caitlin (January 7, 2020). "Pat Sajak's daughter turns letters on 'Wheel of Fortune' as Vanna White takes over hosting duties". CBS News. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  52. ^ "'Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajak Returns to Work Following Surgery". TV Insider. December 6, 2019. Archived from the original on December 10, 2019. Retrieved December 10, 2019.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by Host of Wheel of Fortune (daytime)
Succeeded by
New show Host of Wheel of Fortune (syndicated)
September 19, 1983–December 6, 2019
Succeeded by
Preceded by College Bowl host
1984 (Televised semifinals and finals)
Succeeded by
Preceded by Daytime Emmy Award for
Outstanding Game Show Host

Succeeded by
Daytime Emmy Award for
Outstanding Game Show Host

Succeeded by
Preceded by Recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award
at the Daytime Emmy Awards

With: Alex Trebek
Succeeded by