‘Wheel of Fortune’ host Pat Sajak closes out final episode with a surprise: ‘You know what? It’s not my money’

After more than four decades of hosting “Wheel of Fortune,” Pat Sajak bid an emotional goodbye to fans on the air.

The 77-year-old who took over host Chuck Woolery’s spot in 1981 had a few words to share at the end of Friday’s episode, his last. And he threw in a surprise for contestants during the game as a bonus.

The “Thanks For the Memories” final episode kicked off with a flashback of Sajak’s first time hosting the iconic game show which first hit the air in 1975. The final episode was actually taped in April but Sajak’s goodbye message was held until the end of Friday’s show.

“Well, the time has come to say goodbye,” Sajak said. “I have a few thanks and acknowledgments before I go, and I want to start with all watching out there. It’s been an incredible privilege to be invited into millions of homes night after night, year after year, decade after decade.

“I’ve always felt that the privilege came with the responsibility to keep this daily half-hour a safe place for family fun,” he added. “No social issues, no politics, nothing embarrassing, I hope, just a game.”

“But gradually it became more than that,” the host continued. “A place where kids learned their letters, where people from other countries honed their English skills, where families came together along with friends and neighbors and entire generations.”

“What an honor to play even a small part in all of that,” he concluded. “Thank you for allowing me into your lives. Every time we taped a show, I met three new people from all parts of this wonderful country and the world who were kind and considerate, who rooted for each other, who took great pride in talking about their family, their hometown, their friends, their schools, their jobs, even their pets.”

“In the end, they were the real stars of this show,” he continued. “I genuinely like these people, and I’ll miss the chance to meet more of them.”

After the toss-up round on Friday’s show, Sajak took the opportunity to shake things up a bit.

“We’re going to cut out a round, which kind of robs you people,'” he told his final three contestants. “Here’s what I’ve decided. It’s been a long time since I spun the wheel. I’m going to spin it, and I’m going to add $1,000 to whatever I land on and everyone’s going to get that amount.”

After landing on $1,000 and bringing the total to $2,000 for the players, Sajak declared, “You know what? It’s not my money. Let’s give them all $5,000.”

Sajak was sure to thank the many behind-the-scenes people who helped make the show a success over the years, including appreciation for longtime announcer, Jim, and even his own daughter Maggie.

“Maggie is liked around here because she’s talented and smart and funny, but she’s loved around here because she’s kind and caring and humble,” he said.

Of course, he paid tribute to his longtime co-star Vanna White who had delivered her own emotional farewell message which aired during Thursday’s show.

“Vanna is as sweet and unassuming as she seems. We’ve seen a lot of changes in each other’s lives over the years, but we’ve always been there for each other,” he said.

“While I’ll very much miss working with her, I take solace in the fact that we live about 5 miles apart, so we’ll see plenty of each other,” he said. “But I will miss our nightly closes and her laughter and her good nature. She is a very special woman.”

 

Frieda Powers

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