Longtime Wheel of Fortune viewers might be confused this week when they tune in to their favorite weeknight game show.
That’s because Wheel of Fortune’s longstanding hostess, Vanna White, is missing from her tile-turning duties.
With news that Pat Sajak, 76, is retiring after Season 41, many Wheel of Fortune viewers have pondered whether 66-year-old Vanna might follow suit.
So, when viewers noticed that Vanna was absent this week on Wheel of Fortune, it certainly raised some questions.
As it turns out, the episode was taped previously, and during that time, Vanna had contracted COVID-19, meaning she wasn’t able to participate in the five episodes of Teacher’s Week, airing October 2 through October 6.
During the Monday, October 2 episode of Wheel of Fortune — which was filmed over the summer — Pat told the audience, “You’ll notice Vanna is not here, and I have to say that Ms. White has tested positive for COVID.”
Vanna White misses Teacher’s Week on Wheel of Fortune due to illness
“That’s the bad news,” Pat continued. “The good news is I talked to her just a little while ago, and she feels fine. She has a little sniffle. But she tested positive, and that’s the way it goes, so she will not be with us here this week.”
In Vanna’s absence, 2023 California Teacher of the Year recipient Bridgette Donald-Blue took over as co-host.
And for those wondering why taping couldn’t be rescheduled, that’s because teachers had already arrived at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California, for filming.
Vanna’s absence marks her fourth in 41 years on Wheel of Fortune
Vanna’s absence was shocking since the former model has only missed filming for Wheel of Fortune three times in her 41-year tenure on the show.
Vanna’s first absence occurred in 1986 when she took a leave of absence to grieve the passing of her then-boyfriend, John Gibson. Vanna was replaced by Susan Stafford as she mourned John’s death.
Then, in 1991, Tricia Gist filled in for Vanna while the Lion Brand® Yarns entrepreneur went on a two-week-long honeymoon with her now ex-husband George Santo Pietro.
Vanna’s third absence happened later that same year when she fell ill, and Tricia Gist filled her shoes once again as she recovered.
Vanna will host Wheel of Fortune alongside Ryan Seacrest next year
Season 41 of Wheel of Fortune premiered last month, and there are some big changes coming when Season 42 debuts in 2024. As Monsters and Critics reported, iconic TV host Ryan Seacrest will be taking over the reins following Pat’s retirement.
That means that Vanna and Ryan will become co-hosts for Wheel of Fortune now that we’ve learned that Vanna’s contract with Sony Pictures Television has been extended through at least 2025 and 2026.
Vanna has been tight-lipped about her longtime pal Pat’s replacement, but Ryan has made it clear that he can’t wait to work with the legendary game show hostess.
“Vanna has been such a staple on that show and in our living rooms for so many years. I have been very excited to work with her… I’m very, very happy to hear it and very happy I’ll be able to work with her,” Ryan professed.
Wheel of Fortune airs weeknights on ABC.