Pat Sajak may be a Wheel of Fortune staple after having hosted the long-running game show for some four decades, but those working behind the cameras are reportedly ready for him to set down the cue cards for good. Following a series of on-air controversies and slip-ups, Wheel of Fortune producers are said to be eager for Sajak to "take a break," according to one source.
Speaking to OK! Magazine, the source alleged that producers are ready for Sajak, 74, to step aside and allow somebody else to take on hosting duties. Producers reportedly feel that Sajak "just hasn't been the same since" he underwent emergency surgery to correct a blocked intestine in late 2019. During his time away from the show amid his recovery. OK!'s source said producers "want him to at least take a break from the show" and are hoping "that will pull him out of this terrible tailspin!"
The report comes amid what some have viewed as a troubling several months for Sajak on the game show. In November 2020, he faced criticism after he called a contestant "ungrateful," a remark he apologized for later in the episode, telling the contestant, "I'm sorry I yelled at you. I just don't remember your mother giving us trouble like you did." Just a month later, in December 2020, he faced backlash after he chastised a contestant who interrupted him during a sponsor plug, telling the contestant, "never, never interrupt. Never interrupt a plug! You can do anything else but don't interrupt." In February of this year, Sajak again found himself wading controversy from viewers after he mocked a contestant's speech impediment, Sajak stating, "I thee" instead of "I see," seemingly mocking a lisp.
Many of these moments have gone viral on social media and have prompted a fierce backlash, with some declaring that Sajak's "sarcasm is offensive." Others have requested that the host "please be kinder to your contestants," asking, "What has happened to you?" Some viewers have even begun issuing calls for Sajak to depart the series for good, with one person writing that it's "time for you to retire."
Sajak has hosted the syndicated version of Wheel of Fortune since 1983. While it is unclear when exactly he plans to step down from the role, he previously told Good Morning America he'd "rather leave a couple years too early than a couple of years too late. I don't have a date in mind, but you know, two, three [years], something like that." He also said his departure will be "in the single digits" of years from now and would "like to leave before people ask me to leave."