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Pat Sajak says goodbye on ‘Wheel of Fortune’: ‘It’s been an incredible privilege’

Host Pat Sajak walks onto the stage after greeting the audience during a taping of "Wheel of Fortune Celebrity Week" celebrating the television game show's 25th anniversary at Radio City Music Hall on Sept. 29, 2007, in New York. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images/TNS)

LOS ANGELES — “Wheel. Of. Fortune.”

After those words cue the start of an episode, it’s difficult to think of another person making their way from behind the puzzle board on one of America’s most popular game shows. But that’s what will happen after Friday evening when Pat Sajak, the longtime co-host of “Wheel of Fortune,” signs off one final time.

For more than 40 years, Sajak, along with Vanna White, has helmed the half-hour syndicated program, a role he stepped into in 1981 when the show still aired on network daytime television. Sajak, now 77, announced his retirement last summer, writing on Twitter (now X): “I’ve decided that our 41st season, which begins in September, will be my last. It’s been a wonderful ride, and I’ll have more to say in the coming months. Many thanks to you all.”

Television personality Ryan Seacrest is slated to take over the role in September.

Over the years, “Wheel of Fortune” has been watched by countless viewers, becoming a cultural touchstone for generations of Americans. Phrases like “I’d like to buy a vowel” or “I’d like to solve” are synonymous with the show, as is Sajak’s style of an occasional quip to elicit laughs from the audience in between segments.

In anticipation of his final show, Sony Pictures Television, which produces the program, released a clip of Sajak’s farewell to the “Wheel of Fortune” audience. The episode will air locally at 7:30 p.m. Pacific on KABC-TV (Channel 7). Here’s what he said:

“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 of you watching out there.

“It’s been an incredible privilege to be invited into millions of homes, night after night, year after year, decade after decade. And I’ve always felt that the privilege came with the responsibility to keep this daily half hour a safe place for family fun. No social issues, no politics. Nothing embarrassing, I hope. Just a game.

“But gradually it became more than that. A place where kids learn their letters, where people from other countries hone their English skills, where families came together along with friends and neighbors and entire generations.

“What an honor to have played even a small part in all that. Thank you for allowing me into your lives.”

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