Maggie Sajak made her debut appearance on the show when she was just a baby

By Georgia Slater
January 07, 2020 09:23 AM

Wheel of Fortune is welcoming a new Sajak this week.

While longtime host Pat Sajak has since returned to the gameshow following his recent health crisis, due to the “technicalities of the tapings,” a special guest will take his place on Tuesday’s episode — his 25-year-old daughter, Maggie.

“I was back from my surgery last week and had a wonderful time on the show but I’m not going to be here this week,” Pat, 73, explains in a teaser for the show, reassuring his fans that he has “not had a relapse.”

He continues on to say that while his partner, Vanna White, will continue her “Pat impression” in his absence, a “special letter toucher” will be by her side.

The clip then jumps to White, 62, who says that while she “is happy to fill in” she thinks she “could do this even better hosting the show with a Sajak.”

White then surprises the audience and introduces Maggie as she walks onstage in a red layered dress, smiling and waving to the crowd.

After hugging White, Maggie opens up about her father’s emergency surgery in November.

“From the perspective of his daughter, it was a scary experience, I’m not gonna lie,” she says. “But he’s doing great, and I know he’s so excited to be back next week.”

Though she looks a little different now, Maggie refreshes the viewers’ memories with a 1996 video of her “debut on Wheel of Fortune.” In the video, a baby Maggie accompanies her father on the show stage.

“She’s speaking baby, you can’t quite understand this,” Pat says of his daughter in the decades-old video.

“I’m walking a little better now, and hopefully I’m a little more eloquent than last time,” Maggie jokes when the clip comes to an end.

Credit: Wheel of Fortune
Credit: Mike Pont/Getty Images

In early November, Pat had to undergo emergency surgery for a blocked intestine, leaving White to fill in during his days absent on the show.

Now, Pat feels “great,” he told Good Morning America in his first interview since the surgery on Dec. 20.

“I’ve actually felt ridiculously good for several weeks. I’ve been back in the studio spinning the wheel and nothing has popped,” the Wheel of Fortune host revealed to GMA‘s Paula Faris.

Recalling the day back in November that he was rushed to the hospital for severe stomach pain, Pat told GMA that all had been normal. He enjoyed a morning walk with his daughter, Maggie, but when he returned home to get ready for work, he began to feel the “excruciating” pain in his stomach. Within the next two hours, he was in the hospital having surgery.

“It was that quick and that intense,” he said, before explaining that the “horrific” pain he felt was due to an intestinal block. He also revealed that his blood pressure had dramatically fallen — so much so that doctors had to wait for it to go back up before performing surgery.

But the famed game show host said that he wasn’t at all afraid, he just felt bad for his wife, Lesly Sajak, and daughter.

“Hearing their voices, I thought, ‘Boy, their lives are gonna change now.’ And I felt badly for them. I didn’t feel badly about dying. I felt badly that they were gonna have to deal with the aftermath. As it turned out, I was just high,” Pat added.

Despite the medical scare, the Wheel of Fortune star said his surgery was successful and he can go back to living his normal life — which includes getting back into the studio.