Pat Sajak Says Wheel of Fortune Fans Were 'Proud' of Vanna White for Hosting During His Recovery
In a new profile on CBS Sunday Morning, the show’s longtime host Pat Sajak, who took time off after he underwent emergency surgery for a blocked intestine, shared how Wheel of Fortune fans were incredibly supportive of White when she filled in for him.
“The fact that she did it speaks volumes about her. It would have been very easy for her to say, ‘I’m sorry, this is not what I do,'” Sajak, 73, said of his co-host. “But the audience was rooting for her and almost proud to see her up there.”
When asked whether she would ever consider doing it again, White, 63, joked that it wasn’t at “the top of my list.”
“I loved being there, I loved doing it, but I was so nervous,” she said. “Maybe if I did it a few more times I would feel better about it but I’m my worst critic.”
White filled in for Sajak for three weeks, turning the iconic wheel for the first time. She previously opened up to PEOPLE about how she “didn’t have a chance to prepare” for her solo debut and was “very nervous.”
“I literally had a 30-minute rehearsal of hosting the game. I did one, and then we did the shows! I’m very green, let’s put it that way,” she joked. “I think for listening to Pat for 37 years, I understood the game and how he hosted it. I was very familiar with the show.”
White added: “I just wanted it to go smoothly. I wasn’t sure it was going to. I’m very shy, and I prefer being behind the scenes, not the center of attention. It was awkward in one way. But I did it. I did 15! I was on for three weeks of shows.”
Also in the CBS Sunday Morning profile, White and Sajak opened up about the moment she was first offered the job as co-host in 1982, after auditioning for the role and beating out two other finalists.
“I didn’t recommend Vanna and Vanna knows this,” Sajak admitted. “Not that she wasn’t lovely and wonderful and personable and all of that but she was the most nervous, by far, of any of them.”
But the show’s creator, Merv Griffin, was steadfast in his decision. White said he told her how he felt she and Sajak made a “great brother-sister team” and that she “did turn the letters better than anyone else.”
“I feel very lucky that I was able to get this job,” she said. “I love what I do.”
Wheel of Fortune airs weekdays (check local listings).