Ryan Seacrest is gearing up to take over Wheel of Fortune next year after longtime host Pat Sajak officially retires, but questions remain over whether Vanna White will be joining him.
The 41st season of Wheel kicked off last week with Sajak at the helm for one last time; the legendary host announced his upcoming retirement earlier this year. But while Sajak is leaving, White’s decision remains in the air, with reported contract disputes putting her future with the show in question.
During a recent conference for Fortune magazine, Seacrest was asked about his upcoming game show gig and whether White would still be involved.
“Are you going to keep Vanna White?” the American Idol host was asked, according to Fox News.
“Well, so I am going to…,” Seacrest began before starting over. “I’m fortunate enough to take over for the legendary Pat Sajak. Next year, which I am so… My energy’s gonna go up, sir, on that. I’m telling you. I have been the biggest fan of that show forever.”
“I love Vanna White,” he continued. “I’ve known Vanna for a long time. We sat in important places next to each other. And I hope for nothing more than to be able to walk out on that stage and host with her.”
It was reported in July that White had re-signed a contract to continue on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, but whether she’ll continue with the regular syndicated show after her contract expires at the end of 2024 remains to be seen.
According to TMZ, White’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman, said his client is looking for 50% of what Sajak makes. However, a source later told People that the previous report about White’s demands was “inaccurate,” including the claim that she accepted an offer of $100,000 per episode to continue on the Celebrity edition of the show.
“50 percent of Pat’s salary is so outrageous that no one in their right mind could say that it’s fair,” the source stated. “The negotiation is asking for much more than 50 percent of his salary. It’s asking for the same pay — if not more.”
If White doesn’t return, fans already have a replacement in mind, that being Sajak’s daughter, Maggie Sajak.
“You need to be on Wheel of Fortune,” a fan commented on Maggie’s Instagram page. “I was so bummed when you weren’t selected to take over for your dad. I certainly hope the shows producers are smart enough to have you take over for Vanna.”
“You should be taking over Vanna White’s job when Vanna White is ready to retire,” said another fan.
“I totally agree! She would be PERFECT! Love you Maggie,” replied another commenter.
Maggie has taken over White’s role twice before, once in 2019 while her father recovered from surgery and White stood in as the main host. The second time came earlier this year for ABC’s Celebrity special, which saw White competing against Jeopardy! hosts Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings.
Regardless of who will be turning the letters, Seacrest said he has been focusing on his hosting skills, hoping to match Sajak’s quickness.
“I’m shouting out the puzzles, and my dog is staring at me,” Seacrest told Good Morning America on Monday (September 18). “I’m also practicing the hosting part, too, in my living room. Just to make sure I’ve got the rules down.”
He admitted the most challenging part is “knowing the letters that are gonna come up so fast. Pat [would say], ‘Yeah, there are two Ts.’ He knows so quickly. I’m like, ‘How does he know about the Ts so fast?’”