Pat Sajak
Source YouTube: WTHR, Wheel Of Fortune

Pat Sajak is preparing to retire as host of Wheel Of Fortune after hosting the game show since 1981. His last show will be June 7, 2024. That’s why we’ve decided to take a closer look at Sajak’s life and get to know him a little better!

Scroll through and learn more about one of the most popular and charismatic game show hosts of all time!

When Was Pat Sajak Born?

Sajak was born Patrick Leonard Sajdak in Chicago, Illinois on October 26, 1946. Sajdak is a Polish name, but he later changed it to Sajak to better reflect the way Americans pronounce it.

Sajak’s parents were Leonard Sajdak and Joyce Brandecki, a Polish American couple. They divorced when Sajak was a child, and he was raised on the west side of Chicago by his mother and her second husband Walter Backal. Sajak was never close to his biological father, who died in 1961.

Sajak fell in love with television as a child, when he would watch Jack Paar on The Tonight Show.

“I would sneak out of bed at night not to go out with the guys or grab a beer but it was to turn on The Tonight Show and see what Jack was up to,” Sajak later recalled.

Did Pat Sajak Serve In The Military?

Sajak enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1967, and he was soon deployed to Vietnam. There, he became a DJ for the army’s radio station in Saigon.

Decades later, Sajak would reflect on his military service.

“I used to feel a bit guilty about my relatively ‘soft’ duty,” he admitted. “After all, I was billeted in a hotel, and there were plenty of nice restaurants around.”

“But I always felt a little better when I met guys who came into town from the field and thanked us for bringing them a little bit of home,” Sajak added.

Sajak was discharged in 1970, and he returned to the U.S., where he began looking for work in TV and radio. He got a job as a weatherman in Nashville before moving to Los Angeles and taking the same job on a local network. This eventually led to him being discovered for Wheel Of Fortune.

Who Hosted Wheel Of Fortune Before Pat Sajak?

It’s hard to picture anyone else hosting Wheel of Fortune. Believe it or not, however, Sajak was not the original host!

When Wheel of Fortune premiered in 1975, it was hosted by Chuck Woolery. He continued to host the show until 1981, when he abruptly quit due to a salary dispute. Woolery reportedly wanted a raise, and when it wasn’t given to him, he hit the road.

Woolery would go on to continue to be a successful game show host. He hosted such popular game shows as Love Connection, Scrabble, and Lingo. None of them, however, ever found the success that Wheel of Fortune has gone on to have.

How Long Has Pat Sajak Hosted Wheel Of Fortune?

Sajak has hosted Wheel Of Fortune since December of 1981. He was still working as a weatherman when Wheel of Fortune creator Merv Griffin called him personally to offer him the job. Surprisingly, Sajak had some reservations about taking the position at first.

Wheel Of Fortune had been on the air for seven years in daytime on NBC, and the host was leaving, and they needed a new host, and he asked if I was interested,” Sajak later explained.

“And I swear, the first thought was ‘Yes there are three R’s’ is not exactly a career mover,” he added.

Thankfully, Sajak took the job, and his co-host Vanna White joined him a year later. The pair have hosted Wheel of Fortune ever since, and the rest, as they say, is history!

In September of 2022, Sajak officially surpassed the former Price Is Right host Bob Barker as the longest-running host of any game show.

Related: Pat Sajak Reveals Why He Nearly Refused ‘Wheel Of Fortune’ Job

When Is Pat Sajak’s Last Day On Wheel Of Fortune?

Sajak’s last day on Wheel of Fortune is Friday, June 7, 2024. This is the date of the finale of Season 41. Sajak’s final episode was actually taped on April 5.

Sajak shocked the world when he announced his retirement last year, saying that “the time has come.”

“It’s been a wonderful ride, and I’ll have more to say in the coming months,” Sajak said in a statement at the time. “Many thanks to you all.”

Sajak will be replaced by the American Idol host Ryan Seacrest when Wheel of Fortune returns in the fall. White will be returning as co-host for at least two more seasons.

Why Is Sajak Retiring?

Sajak recently opened up to his daughter Maggie about his reasoning behind retiring.

“I’ve always said this to you, you’ve heard me say this dozens of times, I’d rather leave a couple of years too early than a couple of years too late,” Sajak said.

“Could I still do it? Yeah, I think I could for a while,” he continued. “There’s also some other things in life that we’d like to do, and I’m enjoying this last year. It’s been a great 40 years, and I’m looking forward to whatever’s ahead.”

Watch Sajak talk more about this in the video below.

Related: Game Show Host Pat Sajak Says ‘End Is Near’ After 40 Years Of Hosting ‘Wheel Of Fortune’

Is Pat Sajak Married?

Sajak has been married twice. He was first married to Sherill Sajak from 1979 until they divorced in 1986. Little is known about their marriage, but they had no children.

Sajak has been married to his current wife Lesly Brown-Sajak, a photographer, since 1989. They met through mutual friends in 1988. At the time, Brown-Sajak was a model and aspiring actress.

Sajak and Brown-Sajak were just platonic friends at first, but their marriage soon turned romantic. They now live in Severna Park, Maryland and have a second home in Los Angeles, California.

How Many Kids Does Pat Sajak Have?

Sajak and Brown-Sajak are the proud parents of two children. Their son Patrick was born on September 22, 1990, and their daughter Maggie was born on January 5, 1995.

Patrick graduated from medical school in 2021.

“He is now officially Dr. Sajak, and we’re all thrilled,” Sajack said at the time, adding that he “couldn’t be prouder.”

Maggie had a country music career as a teenager before attending Princeton University. After graduating, she completed a postgraduate program at Columbia University.

Since 2021, Maggie has been the social media correspondent for Wheel of Fortune. In 2023, Maggie got to host Wheel of Fortune for the first time when she filled in for White.

What Is Pat Sajak’s Net Worth?

After hosting Wheel of Fortune for over four decades, Sajak has accumulated an estimated net worth of $75 million. By the end of his run on the game show, he was reportedly earning an annual salary of $15 million.

Sajak is a true legend who has brought joy to millions every night on Wheel of Fortune for years. While he will be dearly missed, we also certainly hope he enjoys his retirement. After years of hard work, Pat Sajak deserves to be able to kick back and relax!

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