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    Monday, July 22, 2024

    ‘Wheel of Fortune’: Vanna White bids an emotional goodbye to Pat Sajak

    FILE - Vanna White, left, and Pat Sajak make an appearance at Radio City Music Hall for a taping of celebrity week on "Wheel of Fortune" in New York on Sept. 29, 2007. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, file)

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ahead of Pat Sajak’s final episode as the host of “Wheel of Fortune,” Vanna White paid an emotional tribute to her co-host of more than 40 years.

    On Thursday’s episode of the beloved game show, White honored Sajak’s work and their friendship with a video segment that featured clips and photos tracing their collaboration from the 1980s to the present.

    “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,” she said. “I love you, Pat.”

    White said that while their long-running work collaboration has been significant to her — noting that he made her feel “so comfortable and so confident” when she started — she said their personal friendship has meant much more.

    “As much fun as we had on camera, those memories, milestones and life events we shared with our families, outside the studio, are my favorite,” she said, seeming to hold back tears. “We’ve watched our children grow up together, we’ve traveled all over the world, we’ve eaten hundreds of meals together. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve celebrated.”

    After the prerecorded video segment ended, Sajak and White shared a hug on stage.

    Sajak and White have been one of television’s most iconic duos since they started working on “Wheel of Fortune” together in 1982, when the show first aired in syndication. They have appeared in over 8,000 episodes together, with Sajak leading the contestants through the game and White famously turning the letters on the puzzle board.

    Sajak announced his retirement in June 2023, making the 41st season of the show his last. White extended her contract in September through the 2025-2026 season and will help shepherd Sajak’s replacement, Ryan Seacrest, through his first two seasons at the helm.

    When Seacrest was announced as Sajak’s successor, Seacrest said in a statement he was “truly humbled” to take over.

    “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,” Seacrest said.

    Sajak's final episode will air Friday.

    FILE - Pat Sajak, left, and Vanna White appear aboard the Wheel of Fortune Express in Miami on Feb. 12, 1987 to tour 33 cities from Miami to Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Judy Sloan, File)
    FILE - Pat Sajak, left, and Vanna White, from "Wheel of Fortune," attend a ceremony honoring Harry Friedman with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles on Nov. 1, 2019. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

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