For 37 years, fans of Wheel of Fortune have watched Pat Sajak host the popular game show while his co-star Vanna White turns the consonants and vowels on the giant puzzle board. But, on Monday’s episode, White hosted the show for the very first time while Sajak was at home recovering from emergency surgery.
White began her three-week run as host on Monday – which was also the start of Disney Week – and Minnie Mouse took over the role of turning letters.
Before the episode aired, the 62-year-old took to Twitter to let her fans know that her role for the next few episodes of Wheel was going to be very different.
“Tonight’s my first night of hosting Wheel!” the South Carolina native tweeted. “I’m excited and nervous! Stay tuned!”
White walked onto the stage with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse when she was introduced to the crowd, and she explained why Sajak was missing.
“Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to Wheel,” said White. “As I’m sure most of you know by now, Pat is recovering from surgery and hopes to be back real soon. I’m happy to step in and help out. And, thanks to Disney magic, Minnie has the power to light up the puzzle board.”
White started to relax and loosen up as the episode went along, but she did make a small mistake towards the end that caused her to laugh at herself. When White had to give the wheel a final spin as time was running out, she was looking at the wrong arrow. She then asked, “How do you do this show?” and also commented, “That wheel is heavy.”
Monday’s episode marked the first time someone other than Pat Sajak has hosted an entire episode of Wheel of Fortune since the show moved from the network version to the syndicated version in the early 1990s.
For a few short months, Bob Goen and former NFL kicker Rolf Benirschke took over the hosting duties when the show jumped from NBC to CBS, and Sajak tried late night television. And, in the late 1990s, Pat Sajak and Alex Trebek traded jobs for a day and each one hosted the other’s game show. Sajak began hosting Wheel in 1981 and White joined him as co-host in 1982.
Last month, Pat Sajak underwent emergency surgery to correct a blocked intestine. Everything went well, and Sajak tweeted that he would be back to work soon, unless Vanna White had completely taken over.