Monday night's episode of Wheel of Fortune concluded with a heartbreaking announcement from host Pat Sajak. As the end credits rolled, the longtime host, 74, sadly announced that his family dog, Stella, had recently died, telling co-host Vanna White that his family had to say "goodbye" to their beloved pet after 12 years together.
Partaking in the typical after-show banter with White, who has a pet cat named Stella, Sajak told viewers that he, too, "had" a dog named Stella. He then went on to sadly explain why he used the past tense when referring to his canine, sharing that "we recently had to say goodbye to Stella." Sajak admitted that the loss of the family pet "was a very sad time for the Sajak family" and that he wanted "to salute Stella by showing you happier days." He then went on to share photos of Stella through the years, including an image of her playing in the snow with Sajak. Sajak concluded the tribute by stating, "we're going to miss her, she was a good friend."
The sad news of Stella's passing was immediately met by a wave of condolences from viewers tuning into the long running game show from home. On Twitter, one viewer wrote that they were "so sad" to learn of Stella's death, going on to add, "my condolences are with you, Pat!" Another viewer tweeted, "I don't usually cry during Wheel of Fortune, but here we are." A third person wrote, "um woah my dog just passed away Friday & tonight Pat's talking about his recently deceased dog too? (Recently as of whatever this episode was taped.) Freaky!"
It is not uncommon for Sajak to share personal news with viewers. In fact, news of Stella's death came just days after the Wheel of Fortune host shared happier news with fans: his son, Patrick Sajak, graduated from medical school, officially making him Dr. Sajak. Sharing the news and admittedly doing "a little parents bragging," Sajak quipped that the only "troubling part" of the news is that his son "insists that I call him Dr. Sajak."
Sajak has hosted the syndicated version of Wheel of Fortune since 1983. A TV mainstay ever since, he notably experienced a weeks-long absence from the game show in late 2019 after he underwent emergency surgery in 2019 for a blocked intestine. In early 2020, he returned to hosting Wheel of Fortune following his emergency surgery and recovery.