The category? “Proper Name.” The answer? Ryan Seacrest, who will become the new “Wheel of Fortune” host after Pat Sajak's retirement next year.
Seacrest and Sony Pictures Television announced Tuesday that Seacrest has signed a multiyear deal to host the long-running game show starting with Season 42. Sajak recently announced the upcoming 41st season would be his last on the show.
It's the latest hosting gig for Seacrest, the popular “American Idol” host who also now rings in the new year for many on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”
“I’m truly humbled to be stepping into the footsteps of the legendary Pat Sajak," Seacrest said in a statement. “I can say, along with the rest of America, that it’s been a privilege and pure joy to watch Pat and Vanna on our television screens for an unprecedented 40 years, making us smile every night and feel right at home with them.”
Seacrest in his statement also praised Vanna White, another mainstay of “Wheel of Fortune,” and signaled she would remain on the show after Sajak's retirement. Both White and Sajak have been on the show since the early 1980s.
"I can’t wait to continue the tradition of spinning the wheel and working alongside the great Vanna White,” Seacrest's statement said. He also said he was looking to learn as much as possible from Sajak during the transition period.
The show tapes in Southern California, where Seacrest also hosts a popular nationally syndicated morning drivetime radio show. In February, Seacrest announced he would leave the New York-based televised morning show “Live with Kelly and Ryan” after six years. Kelly Ripa now hosts that show with her husband Mark Consuelos.
Sajak, 76, has presided over the game show, in which contestants guess letters to try to fill out words and phrases in pursuit of money and prizes, since 1981. He took over duties from Chuck Woolery, who was the show’s host when it debuted in 1975. The show started out as a daytime game show but became a syndicated nightly telecast in 1983, making Sajak and White the main faces of “Wheel of Fortune” for viewers for four decades.
Ryan Seacrest's full statement announcing he'll host "Wheel of Fortune"
"I'm truly humbled to be stepping into the footsteps of the legendary Pat Sajak. I can say, along with the rest of America, that it's been a privilege and pure joy to watch Pat and Vanna on our television screens for an unprecedented 40 years, making us smile every night and feel right at home with that. Pat, I love the way you've always celebrated the contestants and made viewers at home feel at ease. I look forward to learning everything I can from you during this transition.
Many people probably don't know this but one of my first jobs was hosting a little game show called 'Click' for Merv Griffin 25 years ago so this is truly a full cirlce moment for me and I'm grateful to Sony for the opportunity.
I can't wait to continue the tradition of spinning the wheel and working alongside the great Vanna White."