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Wheel of Fortune’s Pat Sajak is calling it quits; set to retire next year

Long-time Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak has confirmed the 41st season of the US game show will be his last.

Sajak, 76, who began hosting the show in 1981, will remain as a consultant for the programme, producers said.

In 2018, he became the longest-running host of a game show, surpassing The Price Is Right’s Bob Barker.

Sajak replaced the original host, Chuck Woolery, and remained the host for more than 40 years.

In 1983, co-host Vanna White joined him for the version of the show familiar to viewers today.

“Well, the time has come. I’ve decided that our 41st season, which begins in September, will be my last,” Sajak wrote on Twitter. “It’s been a wonderful ride, and I’ll have more to say in the coming months.”

He only took a brief hiatus in 2019 after undergoing surgery for a blocked intestine.

Suzanne Prete, executive vice-president of game shows at Sony Pictures Television, said: “Pat has agreed to continue as a consultant on the show for three years following his last year hosting, so we’re thrilled to have him remaining close to the Wheel of Fortune family.”

Sajak won three Emmys for his role and a Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award.

The primetime staple still attracts 26 million viewers weekly, according to Sony, and over 10,000 people audition to be on the show each year.

Originally devised as a TV version of popular game “Hangman”, it revolves around a spinning wheel which determines the prizes to be won by solving word puzzles.

The show has awarded over $250m (£199m) in prizes since its launch, Sony said.

Last year, during an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Sajak hinted at an imminent change.

“Years go by fast. We’re getting near the end…We’re not going to do this for another 40 years,” he said. “But this show will not die. It appears I may go before the show.”