Wheel of Fortune is just about synonymous with Pat Sajak. He’s been the face of the show since 1981, when it was on network daytime TV. His work on “Wheel” has earned him three Emmy awards, a People’s Choice Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Though a little-known fact is that his star has a mistake on it: a film camera instead of the TV set that should be indicating his career. While Wheel of Fortune was taping 20 episodes in Portland earlier this month, NewsWatch12’s Ashley Hall had the opportunity to sit down with the TV legend.
“I’ve been to Oregon before, I’ve been to Medford before, but it’s been personal,” Pat says.
Entertainment icon Pat Sajak is familiar with our area because his agent lives in Ashland. Most of his “Wheel of Fortune” work is done in Los Angeles, though he lives on the east coast. Between commuting cross-country by airplane, and appearing on NewsWatch 12 every night, he seems to always be working.
“I shouldn’t give away my secret but it’s actually the best schedule in show business,” says Pat, “We do tape a lot of shows at once. For example, in 4 days, here in Portland, we’re taping a month worth of shows.”
During each day of taping in Portland, there was some downtime, but even when he wasn’t working, he was still on, talking to fans of Wheel of Fortune and helping in the production perfection; But don’t feel too bad for his busy days.
“I’ll have 2 weeks off,” says Pat, “My life is a series of 2-week vacations so we actually have a lot of downtime. I wish I could say I was the busiest man in show biz but I may be the least busy.”
He purposefully avoids one aspect of his job until the last minute: knowing the answer to the puzzles.
“Well, I know right before each round. I don’t go over it before the show otherwise it’d be in my head and you now – you kind of want to say them almost. I only did it once. We had a bonus puzzle and I looked at the puzzle and said the category is ‘quarterback’, which was actually the puzzle, not the category, so I only did that once.”
But when pressed for additional highs and lows over his 30-year career on “Wheel”, he can’t “give the answer” quickly.
“We’ve done so many shows, over 6,000 shows, that it becomes a big blender in your head. For example, we’re doing 5 shows tonight. By the time we do the 3rd shows, if you ask me something that happened in the first show, I wouldn’t remember.”
But one thing that does stand out to Pat and co-host Vanna White…
“We have so much fun. We’ve been doing this for 29 years and we’ve never had an argument,” says Vanna. “You know why? I think that it’s because we don’t work together every day.”
Despite his long, successful past, pat says he is not thinking about retirement anytime soon.
“You know, I’m not out to break any longevity records,” Pat states, “I’m certainly closer to the end than the beginning, cause I’ve done it for so long. And when I go, it wont be, because maybe it’s time to let someone else do it. I have two criteria. I’d like to go while the show is still popular and before people start saying, ‘what the heck happened to him?’ So, we may be getting close to that last one.”