‘Wheel of Fortune’ announces Ryan Seacrest will replace Pat Sajak after coming season
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
The news was confirmed by Seacrest on Instagram June 27, 2023.
Seacrest will take over as host of the show in the fall of 2024 after Sajak completes his 41st season with the syndicated game show (it’s also the 41st season of the show; Sajak has been host since it launched in its current format).
Sajak, meanwhile, will move into an off-camera consulting role, it was announced in June 2023.
Seacreast departed ABC’s “Live with Kelly and Ryan” (now “Live with Kelly and Mark“) earlier in 2023. He is also host of ABC’s “American Idol,” though it was not immediately clear if he will continue that role.
Both “Wheel” and “Idol” are produced in the Los Angeles area, unlike “Live,” which required Seacrest to be in New York City.
ABC and Sony have a longtime relationship, with its flagship stations in New York and Los Angeles carrying both “Wheel” and sister show “Jeopardy!” ABC also airs special primetime editions of both shows, including “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune.”
The search for a replacement for “Wheel” host was decidedly smooth than after “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek died in 2020. Widely seen as one of the worst examples of transitions on TV, that show named Mike Richards as Trebek’s replacement in 2021. Richards, who was also EP of “Wheel,” was removed after just one week’s worth of shows were filmed, after controversies about his past and alleged wrangling he did to get the position consumed the show.
Richards, unlike Seacrest, is far from being a household name in the U.S., so it appears “Wheel” was eager to lock in a well known name.
Meanwhile, co-host Vanna White, who typically holds down the puzzle board, has reportedly hired a new set of attorneys to represent her in negotiations with Sony going forward. She reportedly is seeking a big increase in salary after it came to light that Sajak was making significantly more than her.
White reportedly makes around $3 million a year and hasn’t been given a formal raise in 18 seasons, though she has reportedly been paid bonuses. Sajak is reportedly making around $15 million a year plus bonuses.
White’s future at the show could be in danger, however, if Sony isn’t willing or able to increase her salary, according to multiple sources.
It’s possible that Sony could opt to eliminate her role (the puzzle board has been largely automated since 1997) to save money or create a clear line of delineation between the Sajak and Seacrest eras.
That said, there’s also much to be said about maintaining a sense of continuity that could drive Sony to favor on the side of keeping her at the board.