What Did Pat Sajak Do Before 'Wheel of Fortune'?

"My dad said, 'Contractually, I can shut down the show unless you hire Pat Sajak.' They hired Pat Sajak the next day," Tony Griffin said.

Melissa Willets - Author

Jun. 7 2024, Published 11:17 a.m. ET

Pat Sajak is seen on June 2, 2021 in L.A.
Source: Getty Images

Iconic game show host Pat Sajak came into our homes every week night for over 40 years as the affable face and voice of Wheel of Fortune.

Alongside the equally-endearing Vanna White, who is not leaving the show yet, Pat entertained countless fans and contestants for an astonishing 8,000 episodes.

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But in June 2024, Pat bids farewell to Wheel of Fortune. While fans wonder what's next for the 77-year-old, we also want to know what Pat did before his longtime hosting gig on the puzzle game. Here's what we know.

Vanna White and Pat Sajak photographed by Walter McBride in 1990
Source: Getty Images
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So, what did Pat Sajak do before 'Wheel of Fortune'?

Pat's touching goodbye to fans was hard to watch, with the icon saying, "Well, the time has come to say goodbye."

"I have a few thanks and acknowledgments before I go, and I want to start with all watching out there," he went on to say. "It's been an incredible privilege to be invited into millions of homes night after night, year after year, decade after decade."

Pat also enthused, "Thank you for allowing me into your lives."

For her part, Vanna gushed in a video in part, “As this chapter of our lives is coming to an end, I know you'll still be close by. You're like a brother to me and I consider you a true lifelong friend who I will always adore. I love you, Pat.”

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Pat, who per Variety plans to star in a theater production called “Prescription: Murder” in Honolulu next, also had a life pre-Wheel of Fortune.

He served in the Vietnam War, per USA Today. During that time, he worked on Armed Forces Radio for a morning show.

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After the war, Pat appeared on television shows from Nashville to L.A., and eventually caught the attention of Merv Griffin, who created the game show that would make Pat a household name.

Apparently Merv really went to bat for Pat with a reluctant network, wanting him to replace the original host of Wheel, Chuck Woolery.

Merv's son recounted, "My dad said, 'Contractually, I can shut down the show unless you hire Pat Sajak.' They hired Pat Sajak the next day."

Ironically, Pat didn't think his time on the show would last that long.

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Ryan Seacrest is poised to take over for Pat Sajak as he embarks on his next chapter.

It won't come as a huge surprise to fans that Ryan was a natural choice to replace Pat for the hosting role on Wheel of Fortune.

The American Idol host said about his new role, "I'm truly humbled to be stepping into the footsteps of the legendary Pat Sajak."

"I can say, along with the rest of America, that it's been a privilege and pure joy to watch Pat and Vanna on our television screens for an unprecedented 40 years, making us smile every night and feel right at home with them," the star added. "Pat, I love the way you've always celebrated the contestants and made viewers at home feel at ease."

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