For 37 years, Vanna White has been turning consonants and vowels on Wheel of Fortune’s puzzle board like no one else ever could. But on Monday, December 9, she finally had a chance to spin the wheel.
White, 62, kicked off her three-week stint as the host of the syndicated game show after longtime lead Pat Sajak underwent emergency surgery to correct a blocked intestine. She was joined by Minnie Mouse, who took over the job of revealing the letters as part of the series’ Disney Week.
“Tonight’s my first night of hosting Wheel!” the South Carolina native tweeted before the episode aired. “I’m excited and nervous! Stay tuned!”
Fortunately, everything went according to plan without Sajak, 73, present. White loosened up after a few rounds, at one point making fun of herself for nearly messing up.
“Oh no, I’m looking at the wrong arrow,” she said. “How do you do this show?”
Later on, when it came time for the final spin of the evening, White told viewers, “That wheel is heavy!”
Created by the late Merv Griffin, Wheel of Fortune premiered in 1975 with Chuck Woolery as the host. Sajak took over in December 1981, and White joined the show as the regular hostess the following year.
Monday’s episode marked the first time ever that White stepped in as host for an entire episode, although she and Sajak previously switched places for a single round in 1996 because he was battling laryngitis.
The show’s producers announced via Twitter in November that Sajak had undergone “successful emergency surgery” and was “resting comfortably.” Three days later, he tweeted, “I’m so grateful for all the good wishes during my recent illness. Happy to say that the worst has passed, and I’ll be out of the hospital in a day of two, then back to work (unless @TheVannaWhite has completely taken over!).”
White will host the remainder of this week and next week’s shows. Sajak will then return for two weeks of episodes that he had taped before his surgery. White’s third week as host begins airing on January 6, 2020, with a surprise guest at the puzzle board.
Wheel of Fortune airs weekdays. Check your local listings.