Ryan Seacrest will take over hosting duties on long-running syndicated game show Wheel of Fortune next year, the American Idol host announced on Tuesday, following longtime host Pat Sajak’s retirement after four decades solving word puzzles.
Seacrest said he was “truly humbled” to replace Sajak and that he “can’t wait to continue the tradition” and to work alongside Vanna White, who co-hosted alongside Sajak for decades.
Sajak, who turned 76 in October, announced earlier this month he will retire from the syndicated game show after the upcoming season starting in September, after more than 40 seasons as host, saying: “It’s been a wonderful ride.”
Sajak’s final episode hosting Wheel of Fortune, the nationally syndicated game show he’s hosted since 1981, is set for next June, the final week of the show’s 41st season.
Sajak will remain involved with Wheel of Fortune as a consultant for three years following his retirement, the show’s distributor Sony Pictures Television said earlier this month.
7.3 million. That’s how many people watched Wheel of Fortune on average in the first full week of June, according to data from Nielsen, putting it just behind Jeopardy! (7.6 million) and ahead of Family Feud (6.9 million).
A longtime TV and radio host, Seacrest came into the national spotlight co-hosting American Idol in 2002 before becoming the massively popular reality show’s sole host one year later. In 2005, he joined Dick Clark on ABC’’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and took over hosting duties after Clark’s death in 2012. Seacrest has also hosted a slew of programs on the E! network, contributed to NBC’s coverage of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in 2016 and for six years co-hosted Live with Kelly and Ryan, with Kelly Ripa, replacing retired NFL star Michael Strahan. Seacrest left the show in April and was replaced by Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos.
Sajak’s retirement marks the end of an era for nighttime game shows and comes three years after the death of longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, who had hosted the trivia show since the 1980s. Jeopardy!—which is also syndicated by Sony and often packaged back-to-back with Wheel of Fortune—turned to a rotating cast of guest hosts following Trebek’s death, before announcing former champion Ken Jennings and The Big Bang Theory actor Mayim Bialik as the show’s new hosts in 2021.