Just two months after securing a lawyer amid her fight for fair compensation for her long-standing role on Wheel of Fortune, Vanna White has officially inked a deal to remain on the show through the summer of 2026.
Last week, the show returned for its latest season as Vanna demanded pay parity after earning $3 million annually for the past 18 years with no pay increases during her tenure. Ryan Seacrest, Pat Sajak’s replacement, is apparently very happy with the contract extension, telling TODAY:
“This is such great news. Vanna has been such a staple on that show and in our living rooms for so many years. I’ve been very excited to work with her but now that it’s official I can say, 'Congratulations, Vanna.' I can’t wait.”
He also touched on her importance on the show:
“It’s super important to have Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune. She’s beloved by this country and the viewers and I can’t even imagine standing next to her on that set being able to say, ‘OK, let’s get to it.’ It’s great news. I’m very happy to hear it and very happy I get to work with her.”
It makes sense that Ryan is looking forward to having her on the show. He’s stepping into brand new, uncharted territory. And though he’s a seasoned TV host, this is still a whole new ball game for him. Even he admits to how useful it will be to have her there, particularly as it pertains to him learning the ropes, adding that he feels comforted by the fact that he can turn to her and ask for pointers in times of need.
While there’s no information floating around about which of her demands were met, the question of why she wasn’t tapped to become the permanent host of the show is still on the minds of many. And that question becomes even more prominent when Ryan shares his sentiments about finding comfort in being able to turn to her for pointers on how to host the show.
Hosting is not something she’s a stranger to, considering that on a few occasions over the decades, she’s stepped in for Pat Sajak. I can’t be the only one assuming that it’s a lot easier to find a letter-turner than it is to find a host for the actual show.
I think that’s part of the reason Vanna’s fight resonated with so many people, and for women in particular. How many times have we sat idly by, as men received promotions we applied for and proved we were more than worthy of being awarded? Only to have to sit and walk the newly appointed candidate through some of the most basic parts of the role, and even the more complicated aspects of it.
What we’ve learned, through fights like Vanna’s, the ongoing strikes which eventually forced productions like The Drew Barrymore Show back into hiatus, which Sarah covered here, is that people are more engaged than ever with what is going on behind the scenes – and that we’re not afraid to share our thoughts on things and apply pressure to the people in charge. It doesn’t mean that we don’t still have a long way to go, but people are much more in tune to societal issues and how those play out and are reflected in Hollywood.
It’s part of the reason why, when we hear that writers are not earning livable wages or that they don’t have access to workspaces where dignity is a thing, we can empathize and align with that and lend our voices to their fight. It’s part of the reason why, when Vanna, a white woman with privilege and tenure is still forced to enlist the assistance of a lawyer to have her first pay increase in nearly two decades, we stand behind her. Because we know what it’s like for everyone else that doesn’t have that privilege. It’s why we’re getting loud and unafraid of reminding people that we are the consumers. And more importantly, that there is power in that.