Weeks after Pat Sajak announced his retirement from Wheel of Fortune, Vanna White has secured a lawyer amid reports of concern and worry over her future with the show. 


Questions surrounding her future on the show started swirling after Pat announced his retirement on Twitter in June, which was followed by the almost immediate appointment of Ryan Seacrest to be his replacement. Ryan addressed his new gig on Instagram in this post, saying he “can’t wait to work alongside the great Vanna White.” But depending on how negotiations go, he may not get to work with Vanna at all. 

According to reports, her concerns stem from not being given the chance to be next in line for Pat’s job, not having more say on his replacement, and perhaps most importantly, not receiving a raise in 18 years. 

TMZ initially reported that Vanna was holding out until she was granted a salary that was at least half of Pat’s $15 million annual earnings. For the last 18 years, though, it’s remained at $3 million, with no raises whatsoever, just bonuses throughout the years. And she knows she’s worth more.

“Everybody relates ‘Wheel of Fortune’ to Pat and Vanna. We’re like Ken and Barbie, you know,” she told PEOPLE back in 2022. “We’ve been in everybody’s homes for 40 years, so it would be weird having somebody else turn my letters.”


As TMZ points out, the show can’t afford to lose Pat and Vanna simultaneously. But many would argue that they can’t afford to lose Vanna at all. Given the popularity of the show among older viewers, and her 41 year presence, she is a huge symbol of continuity and familiarity for the show’s greying audience. 

Four decades is a long time to do anything. But it’s an especially long time to spend weekday evenings in households all across North America with families in their living rooms as they wind down from the day. She has done that with grace, elegance, and a masterful ability to toe the line of celebrating the show’s winners and softening the blow of a loss for the show’s other players. 

But even among younger viewers who have grown up in an era where women’s workplace struggles are being discussed more openly, the threat of making the wrong move and upsetting a generation we know is incredibly outspoken and ready to drag anyone or anything in a heartbeat, and equipped with tools like social media, it could be a crucial mistake for Sony Pictures Television. And the company’s hesitance to give her what she’s asking for is already proving to be a hot topic, with some labelling Ryan’s appointment as a ‘lazy choice’ and others saying it should’ve gone to Vanna, starting the hashtag #justiceforvanna.


The thoughts behind that hashtag are a sentiment many people echoed, especially considering all that Ryan has on his plate already. Back in 2017, Ryan first discussed the idea of slowing down while in conversation with The Hollywood Reporter.

“I’ve figured out what I’m better at and what I’m not so good at, and I’m doing the things that I’m better at. The things that I’m not so good at would make me tired and would make me want to slow down,” he said.

Then, this April, he left his post as the cohost of Live With Kelly & Ryan, citing exhaustion as one of the reasons for his departure.

“I thought you left Kelly and Ryan for a break? So you didn’t have to work so hard,” one Instagram user commented on his new gig announcement post. 


Just four years after that initial interview, he sat down with the Wall Street Journal in 2021 to further underscore the importance of slowing down, particularly after experiencing an undisclosed health scare on live television that many believed was a stroke.

“I definitely knew that I needed to slow down…I just had burnt myself out. I was absolutely beat and fatigued and just wasn’t letting myself accept that. Now I do,” he told the outlet.

But now – two more years later, he’s signed on to this new gig, after just extending his iHeartRadio contract in 2021. The radio show he’s hosted for nearly 20 years is slated to keep going until at least 2025. So all this discussion of burnout, suffering some sort of medical episode on-screen, stepping away from one gig and starting up another, all while there was a readily available, highly sought after, legendary icon named Vanna White ready and willing to do the job herself? Why not her?

To be fair, Wheel of Fortune only tapes four days a month. Compared to his hectic schedule of having to shoot daily, this is fairly easy money for him to make. And while it’s great that he’s choosing gigs that align more with his modified approach to work, it still begs the question of what Sony’s priorities are in a case like this. Honouring longevity, either through making Vanna the host, or at least giving her what she’s asking for, or, putting the show’s legacy at risk just to get another male host in the door?


Considering the succession drama that ensued over on Jeopardy!, in which the quest to find a replacement for Alex Trebek, which Lainey covered here, catapulted the quiet and longstanding evening game show to centre stage for all the wrong reasons, you’d think Sony would want to keep the OG happy, and around. But instead, there are reports that she is ‘replaceable’. Everyone that watches the show knows that she isn’t.

Vanna’s made it clear that she’s not on the path to retirement and is definitely interested in remaining with the show – telling PEOPLE last December that she couldn’t even imagine life past her current role, and calling the idea of the show ending ‘depressing’

So needless to say, people who were under the impression she’d be a shoo-in as Pat’s replacement have a lot of questions. And despite Ryan’s overall likeability and reputation for being disciplined and more than qualified for the role, it seems like a massive oversight – and perhaps an intentional one at that. 

This would’ve been the perfect opportunity for this legacy game show to carve out a new path for its future and to secure 40 more years of longevity. And to be clear, there are more ways of doing that than just appointing Vanna as the host. But it’s a great place to start. And so is paying the lady what we all know she's worth.