With filming for the 22nd season of “American Idol” expected to begin soon, host Ryan Seacrest is also busy practicing for his debut as the incoming host of the classic TV game show “Wheel of Fortune.” It was announced in June 2023 that when longtime host Pat Sajak, 76, retires following the current season, Seacrest will take over. But will Vanna White join him to turn the letters as she has for more than 40 years?
Since Seacrest signed the deal for an undisclosed sum, questions have been flying about the future of Sajak’s co-star, who spent the summer negotiating for a higher salary in order to return to the show. Puck News reported that White hadn’t received a raise on the show in 18 years and wanted a significant bump in pay.
On September 19, Variety reported that White has decided to return to the game show after securing an undisclosed pay raise, co-starring with Seacrest for at least two years, through the 2025-26 season. Seacrest, who has kept quiet about all the behind-the-scenes salary drama, finally broke his silence to say he’s thrilled she’ll be back.
Here’s what you need to know:
Ryan Seacrest Says He’s Relieved He Can Ask Vanna White for Help on ‘Wheel of Fortune’
When news got out about White signing an extended contract with “Wheel of Fortune,” Seacrest was at NBC, taping an interview with Willie Geist that’s scheduled to air the morning of September 24.
Geist told his “Today Show” colleagues that during the interview, Seacrest said he “hoped” White would be back, but when a PR rep informed them afterwards that White’s deal was officially done, they turned their mics back on and Seacrest told him how relieved he is to see White return.
“This is such great news,” Seacrest said in clip tweeted by “Today” on September 20. “Vanna has been such a staple on that show and in our living rooms for so many years. I’ve been very excited to work with her but now that it’s official I can say, ‘Congratulations, Vanna.’ I can’t wait.”
Seacrest continued, “It’s super important to have Vanna White on ‘Wheel of Fortune.’ She’s beloved by this country and the viewers and I can’t even imagine standing next to her on that set being able to say, ‘OK, let’s get to it.’ It’s great news. I’m very happy to hear it and very happy I get to work with her.”
He also added that he’s relieved there will be a vet of the show on hand “who I can say, ‘How does this work? Where do we go now? What’s next? Okay, got it!’ Vanna, please tell me what to do!”
Ryan Seacrest Isn’t the Only Change Coming to ‘Wheel of Fortune’
In addition to Seacrest joining “Wheel of Fortune” in 2024, the show is experiencing some other big changes, according to Variety, including the retirement of its longtime director, Robert Ennis.
Also, Sajak’s daughter Maggie Sajak will expand her role as the game show’s social media correspondent over the next year. She will film on the road for a recurring “Fan Fridays” segment that as she visits tourist destinations from Portland, Maine, to New York City and numerous stops in Europe as part of the show’s ongoing partnership with guided tour firm Collette, per Variety.
Seacrest hasn’t shared any plans he hopes to make on the show, but did admit during an appearance on “Good Morning America” that he’s been rehearsing at home while watching the show.
“I’m shouting out the puzzles, and my dog is staring at me,” Seacrest said. “I’m also practicing the hosting part, too, in my living room. Just to make sure I’ve got the rules down.”