Pat Sajak

Pat Sajak

Sajak in 2011
Born Patrick Leonard Sajdak
(1946-10-26) October 26, 1946
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Alma mater Columbia College Chicago
Occupation Television personality
Gameshow Host
Former DJ & TV Weatherman
Years active 1975–present
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sherrill Sajak (m. 1979; div. 1986)
Lesly Brown (m. 1989)
Children 2

Pat Sajak (/ˈsæk/ SAY-jak, born Patrick Leonard Sajdak; October 26, 1946[1]) is an American television personality, former weatherman, actor and talk show host, best known as the host of the American television game show Wheel of Fortune.

Early life

Sajak, the son of a Polish American factory worker, was born and raised in Chicago. His mother, Joyce, remarried Walter Backal. He graduated from Farragut High School in 1964, then went to Columbia College Chicago while working as a desk clerk at the Palmer House hotel.[2] He served in uniform as a disc jockey in Vietnam for Armed Forces Radio.[3]


Sajak won a contest on WLS radio's Dick Biondi Show to be a guest teen deejay. While at Columbia College Chicago, his broadcasting instructor Al Parker told him that a local radio station (WEDC) was looking for a newsman. Sajak applied for the job and was hired to work from midnight to 6:00 AM. In 1968, Sajak joined the U.S. Army, and was sent to Vietnam, where he served as a disk jockey on Armed Forces Radio. On The Military Channel's program, An Officer and a Movie, Sajak admitted to botching President Nixon's 1969 Christmas broadcast to the troops; he accidentally cut the feed off prematurely. Upon realizing the error, he decided it would be best not to resume the feed. In the early 1970s, Sajak DJed for a Murray, Kentucky, radio station for a year.[4] Also in the early 1970s, Sajak began DJ'ing at 50,000-watt WSM in Nashville; at the time WSM was playing pop music during the day, and he was the 3:00–5:00pm afternoon personality. The radio station's television sister, WSM-TV (now WSMV), brought Sajak on screen, first as a voiceover artist doing station identifications and anchoring the five-minute newscasts during NBC's Today Show, then as a weekend and substitute weatherman, where he became acquainted with anchor Dan Miller. In 1977 KNBC-TV in Los Angeles was looking for a weatherman, and spotted Sajak working in Nashville. Sajak accepted KNBC's request for him to be a full-time weatherman for the station.

Sajak on the Wheel of Fortune set in 2006

In 1981 Merv Griffin asked Sajak if he would be interested in taking over the duties as host on Wheel of Fortune from Chuck Woolery. However, Fred Silverman, then president and CEO of NBC, rejected his hiring, claiming he was too local, and Griffin responded by imposing a moratorium on new tapings until Sajak was hired.[5] The issue became moot when Silverman was dismissed due to repeated programming failures and replaced by Brandon Tartikoff. Sajak, who had already hosted a few game show pilots, accepted the position. He hosted both the daytime (NBC) and syndicated evening versions of Wheel from 1983 to 1989, and continues to host the latter version.

Sajak had a small role as a Buffalo, New York, newscaster in the 1982 comedy film Airplane II: The Sequel. When his late-night talk show on CBS premiered in January 1989, he left the daytime version of Wheel, and was replaced by former San Diego Chargers place-kicker Rolf Benirschke. Sajak appeared on Super Password several times from 1984 to 1989, as well as Password Plus in 1981, shortly before taking on hosting duties on Wheel. Other game shows on which Sajak guested were Dream House and Just Men!.

Sajak hosted a short-lived late-night talk show on CBS from January 9, 1989, to April 13, 1990. Dan Miller, Sajak's old friend and former anchor at WSM-TV in Nashville, joined Sajak as his sidekick. He later became a frequent guest host for CNN's Larry King Live, effective when King himself was unable to attend. Sajak also became a regular substitute host for Regis Philbin on the syndicated Live with Regis and Kelly.[6] Sajak also hosted a program, Pat Sajak Weekend, on the Fox News Channel in 2003.[7] More recently, he began hosting The Pat Sajak Baseball Hour, a syndicated radio sports talk show.

Sajak is an External Director of conservative publishing house Eagle Publishing[8] and is on the Board of Trustees at Hillsdale College in southern Michigan, currently as vice chairman.[9] He has written for Human Events and served on the Board of Directors for the Claremont Institute.

In 1983 Sajak portrayed Kevin Hathaway in the NBC daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives.

In 1993 Sajak appeared as himself on the popular children's cartoon show Rugrats.[10]

In 1997 Sajak pulled an April Fool's Day prank on fans when he and Vanna White were contestants on an episode of Wheel hosted by Alex Trebek. Both the winnings of Sajak and White were donated to charity (in this case, the American Cancer Society and the Boy Scouts of America). In return, Sajak hosted a regular episode of Jeopardy! in place of Trebek. He also appeared at the beginning of a 2010 April Fool's episode, along with Jeff Probst and Neil Patrick Harris.

In 2001, he appeared as himself in the episode "Inner Tube" on the sitcom The King of Queens.

Sajak began writing for the National Review Online in 2010. In his first post he questioned whether public employees should be allowed to vote on issues that would benefit them directly.[11][12] He also has contributed to the center-right socio-political / social networking website,[13]

Sajak also is the author of several puzzle games, the first and best-known of them being "Lucky Letters", which debuted in 2007. The games, which Sajak developed with puzzle developer David L. Hoyt, are syndicated through Universal Uclick.[14]

Pat Sajak was parodied in a 1980s Sesame Street sketch, with a Muppet named Pat Playjacks hosting "Squeal of Fortune". The goal was for the contestants (Prairie Dawn and The Count) to guess how many times a pig in the center of the wheel would squeal before the wheel stopped.[15]

During the 1980s comedian Martin Short frequently portrayed on the sketch comedy television shows SCTV and Saturday Night Live a fictional character he called Ed Grimley, a hyperactive manchild who is obsessed with banal popular culture, Sajak in particular.

Personal life

Sajak is divorced from his first wife, Sherrill, and is married to his second wife, Lesly Brown Sajak, a photographer, with whom he has a son, Patrick Michael James Sajak (born September 22, 1990), and a daughter, Maggie Marie Sajak (born January 5, 1995). The couple lives in Severna Park, Maryland,[16] and has a second home in Los Angeles, California.[17]

In 2005, Sajak became an investor in the Golden Baseball League, a professional, independent baseball league with teams in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Alberta, British Columbia, and Baja California.[18][19] During a guest appearance in the broadcast booth at a March 2012 Baltimore Orioles Boston Red Sox spring training game,[20] Sajak acknowledged that he had called some baseball games in the past.

Sajak is featured in a brief film shown at the visitor's center at Mount Vernon, the residence of George Washington, where he explains to tourists the attractions of the site.[21][22] Sajak owns Maryland-based AM radio station WNAV in Annapolis (since 1998).

Sajak is an active supporter of conservative political causes and has written a number of columns for the conservative magazine Human Events.[23] According to NEWSMEAT, Sajak has donated over $17,000 to candidates and election committees, all associated with the Republican Party.[24] Sajak is also a regular poster and podcast participant on the conservative blog[25] He has long acknowledged being a climate change skeptic.[26]

Sajak is a member of the Churches of Christ.[27]


  1. "Pat Sajak Biography". Archived from the original on April 1, 2016. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  2. "Meet Pat Sajak". P.A.T. Productions and Uclick. Retrieved November 15, 2009.
  3. Pat Sajak Biography. IMDb.
  4. "The Good Fortunes of Pat Sajak". The New York Times. December 11, 1988. p. 4. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
  5. Griffin, Merv. Merv: Making the Good Life Last. New York: Pocket Books, 2003, page 101
  6. Pat Sajak – IMDb
  7. Pat Sajak Weekend (TV Series 2003) – IMDb
  8. Regnery Publishing: "Eagle Publishing Corporate Information"
  9. "Board of Trustees". Hillsdale College. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  10. "Rugrats Episodes for 1993". Steve Mindykowski. Retrieved October 28, 2009. Pat Sajak appeared as himself in this episode as the presenter of the $10 million check, as well as endorser of the magazine contest.
  11. Sajak, Pat (October 13, 2010). "Public Employees and Elections: A Conflict of Interest?". National Review Online.
  12. Amira, Dan (October 14, 2010). "Pat Sajak Should Stick to Telling People Which Letters Are in Certain Words and Phrases". New York Magazine.
  13. "Pat Sajak Profile". Silent Cal Productions. Retrieved September 23, 2012.
  14. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  15. "Squeal of Fortune". YouTube.
  16. Pat Sajak's House – Virtual Globetrotting
  17. Aaron Barnhart, "Wheel of Very Good Fortune for Sajak", Chicago Tribune, May 12, 2005.
  18. Golden Baseball League Ownership Group (Biographies)
  19. Vanna gives us letters, but Sajak gives us baseball! (GBL Medford website, August 28, 2008)
  20. "Bobby Valentine Meets With 'Wheel of Fortune' Host Pat Sajak Prior to Red Sox-Orioles Game (Photo)". NESN. WordPress. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
  21. Trescott, Jacqueline (October 24, 2006). "Fleshing Out a Founding Father". The Washington Post.
  22. Trescott, Jacqueline (November 5, 2006). "George Washington: Surveyor, slave owner, soldier / New Mount Vernon exhibits reveal more facets of president". San Francisco Chronicle.
  23. A list of articles by Pat Sajak online at Human Events magazine
  24. NEWSMEAT ▷ Pat Sajak's Federal Campaign Contribution Report
  25. Pat Sajak –
  26. "'Wheel of Fortune' Host Pat Sajak Under Fire for Global Warming Tweet?!". Fox News. May 21, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014. Sajak has long acknowledged that he is a climate change skeptic.
  27. "Famous members of the Churches of Christ". 2015. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
Media offices
Preceded by
Chuck Woolery
Host of Wheel of Fortune (daytime)
December 28, 1981 – January 9, 1989
Succeeded by
Rolf Benirschke
Preceded by
Host of Wheel of Fortune (syndicated)
September 19, 1983 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Bob Barker
Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host
Succeeded by
Bob Barker
Preceded by
Bob Barker
Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host
Succeeded by
Ben Stein and Jimmy Kimmel
Preceded by
Agnes Nixon
Recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmy Awards
with Alex Trebek
Succeeded by
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