Pat Sajak is an American television personality, game show host, and occasional actor, who is best known for hosting the popular game show Wheel of Fortune since 1981.
He has also hosted other shows, such as The Pat Sajak Show, Just Men, and Dream House, and has appeared in various films, television series, and game shows.
As of 2023, Pat Sajak’s net worth is estimated to be $75 million, and he earns an annual salary of $15 million for his work on Wheel of Fortune.
He is married to Lesly Brown Sajak, a photographer, and has two children. He has also faced some health issues in recent years and has been involved in other career ventures, such as writing, publishing, and producing.
Pat Sajak’s Career and Rise to Fame
Early Life and Education
Pat Sajak was born on October 26, 1946, in Chicago, Illinois, as Patrick Leonard Sajdak. His parents were Leonard Anthony Sajdak, a factory worker, and Joyce Helen, a homemaker. His surname was originally spelled Sajdak, but he later changed it to Sajak to better reflect its Americanized pronunciation. He graduated from Farragut High School in 1964 and then attended Columbia College Chicago, where he studied broadcasting. He also worked as a desk clerk at The Palmer House Hilton Hotel.
Career in Broadcasting
Sajak began his career as a disc jockey in the early 1970s, working for various radio stations in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Nashville. In 1968, he enlisted in the army and was deployed to Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, he worked at the American Forces Vietnam Network and hosted the radio program Dawn Buster. He followed the tradition of signing on with “Good Morning Vietnam!” He returned to the United States in 1969 and resumed his radio career.
In 1977, Sajak joined KNBC-TV in Los Angeles as a weatherman. He gained popularity for his witty style of delivering the weather reports. He also became a frequent guest host for NBC’s The Today Show.
Host of Wheel of Fortune
In 1981, Sajak was offered the opportunity to host Wheel of Fortune, a syndicated game show that features contestants solving word puzzles for cash and prizes. He replaced Chuck Woolery, who had left the show due to a contract dispute. Sajak was initially hesitant to accept the offer, as he did not want to leave his weatherman job, but he eventually agreed to host the show. He was paired with Vanna White, a former model and actress, who became the show’s co-host and letter-turner.
Sajak and White proved to be a successful and popular duo, and Wheel of Fortune became one of the most watched and longest-running game shows in American television history. Sajak has hosted the show for over 40 years and has received 19 nominations for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host, winning three times. In 2019, he was recognized by the Guinness World Records for having the longest career as a game show host for the same show, surpassing previous record holder Bob Barker.
Pat Sajak’s Net Worth and Salary
Estimated Net Worth in 2023
As of 2023, Pat Sajak’s net worth is estimated to be $75 million, according to various sources. He has accumulated his wealth mainly from his long and successful career as a game show host, as well as from his other endeavors in the entertainment industry. He is considered to be one of the richest and most influential television personalities in the world.
Pat Sajak earns an annual salary of $15 million for his work on Wheel of Fortune, according to Celebrity Net Worth. He is one of the highest-paid game show hosts in the world, and his salary is comparable to that of other famous hosts, such as Alex Trebek, Steve Harvey, and Drew Carey. He also earns additional income from his other projects, such as producing, writing, and acting.
Personal Life and Relationships
Marriage to Lesly Brown Sajak
Pat Sajak is married to Lesly Brown Sajak, a photographer and former model. The couple met in 1988, when Sajak was a celebrity guest at the opening of a Maryland bar, where Brown was working as a bartender. They dated for a year and got married on December 31, 1989, in a private ceremony in Annapolis, Maryland. They have two children together: a son, Patrick Michael James Sajak, born in 1990, and a daughter, Margaret Marie Sajak, born in 1995. Margaret is also a singer and songwriter, who goes by the stage name Maggie Sajak.
Sajak and Brown have been married for over 30 years, and have maintained a happy and stable relationship. They live in Severna Park, Maryland, and also own a home in Los Angeles, California. They are both avid golfers and enjoy traveling together.
Rumors about sexual orientation
In 2010, Sajak sparked some rumors about his sexual orientation, when he jokingly tweeted that he and his longtime friend and colleague, Vanna White, had been “intimately involved” in the 1980s. He later clarified that he was only kidding and that he and White had never been romantically involved. He also stated that he was happily married to his wife and that he was not gay.
Health Issues and Other Ventures
Battles with health problems
In 2019, Sajak underwent emergency surgery for a blocked intestine, which caused him to miss several episodes of Wheel of Fortune. He was temporarily replaced by Vanna White, who hosted the show for the first time in her career. Sajak recovered from the surgery and returned to the show in December 2019. He thanked his fans for their support and prayers and praised White for her performance as the host.
In 2020, Sajak revealed that he had suffered a near-fatal heart attack in 2017, which he had kept secret from the public. He said that he had experienced chest pains and shortness of breath, and was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent a stent procedure. He said that he was lucky to survive the heart attack and that he had made some lifestyle changes to improve his health.
Other Career Ventures
Besides hosting Wheel of Fortune, Sajak has also been involved in various other career ventures, such as:
- Hosting a late-night talk show on CBS from 1989 to 1990, called The Pat Sajak Show. The show featured celebrity guests, comedy sketches, and musical performances, but was canceled after one season due to low ratings and competition from other shows.
- Appeared in several films, television series, and game shows, such as Airplane II: The Sequel, Days of Our Lives, Rugrats, Jeopardy!, and The Price Is Right. He also voiced himself in animated shows, such as The Simpsons, Family Guy, and King of the Hill.
- Writing for the National Review Online and Ricochet.co, conservative websites that feature political commentary and analysis. He also served as an external director of Eagle Publishing, a conservative publishing house that owns Regnery Publishing, Human Events, and other publications.
- Authoring several puzzle games, such as “Lucky Letters”, “Pat Sajak’s Code Letter Crosswords”, and “Pat Sajak’s Trivia Gems”, developed in collaboration with puzzle developer David L. Hoyt. He also created a mobile app, called “Pat Sajak’s Lucky Letters”, which features word games and trivia questions.
- Producing and starring in a web series, called “Pat Sajak Baseball Hour”, which debuted in 2010. The series is a parody of sports talk shows and features Sajak and his co-hosts discussing baseball topics and interviewing guests. The series is available on YouTube and iTunes.