‘Wheel of Fortune’: Host Pat Sajak Is on the Mend, But When Will He Be Back?

Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak is out of the hospital and made his first public appearance recently after his emergency Nov. 7 surgery. It was almost jarring for Wheel fans to not see the game show host at the helm, especially since the man’s been doing it almost four decades, but he has had special help covering his duties for him.

Pat Sajak
Pat Sajak | Jerritt Clark/WireImage

Find out more about where he popped up in his first time out since his operation, plus when he’ll be back to work.

Why Sajak needed surgery immediately and when he’ll be back at the ‘Wheel’

Once Sajak went in for surgery, filming for the game show was stopped. The show’s Twitter page issued a statement saying, “Our taping on Thursday was canceled because host Pat Sajak underwent successful emergency surgery to correct a blocked intestine. He is resting comfortably and looking forward to getting back to work.”

Sajak’s obstruction cause has not been revealed but he was expected to be out for two weeks.

However, as of the first week of December, he has not returned yet and neither the show’s Twitter or Instagram accounts are saying when he’ll officially be back.

Incredibly, the 73-year-old has hosted Wheel of Fortune since 1983. This season of the beloved game show saw Sajak become the longest-tenured game show host, passing by even Bob Barker, host of The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007.

Who took over ‘Wheel of Fortune’ in Pat Sajak’s absence?

While Sajak’s been away, his co-host Vanna White has been filling in his duties, and very ably. Who’s been turning the letters for her?

Disney characters, including Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto have been helping contestants solve puzzles to do their part while Sajak’s away.

The 62-year-old White adapted nicely from revealer-of-letters to Wheel of Fortune host. These episodes, previously taped and with White as host, will air beginning on December 9. 

She opened up in October 2019 to People about her nearly 40 years on the game show and about a painful time in her life that Wheel of Fortune helped her through.

White recalled the 1986 death of her then-fiancé, The Young and the Restless actor John Gibson, who died after the plane he was piloting crashed near Los Angeles. She still acknowledges it was Wheel of Fortune fans who carried her through the intense pain.

“It was May 17, 1986,” White recalls. “The second I heard about it, I fell to my knees. It was just devastating. I heard from so many people who had shared the same experience of losing someone instantly in an accident, and that really helped me. I didn’t feel like I was alone. Because when something like that happens, you immediately think you’re the only one.” 

Sajak’s first public appearance since his surgery

According to People last week, Sajak was seen on Nov. 29 at a Washington Capitals hockey game with his daughter Maggie. That was three weeks after the show announced he would not be back for a while due to his surgery. The hockey-loving Sajak was decked in a red Capitals jacket for the occasion.

“Always great to see Pat around the arena,” NBC Sports Washington’s Craig Laughlin reportedly said during the third period of the game. “Loves his hockey. He’s getting better. He says the worst has passed . . . after that surgery so well wishes to Pat and the family.”

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