Vanna White worries that ‘Wheel of Fortune’ producers see her as ‘replaceable’

When Pat Sajak announced his retirement from Wheel of Fortune, suddenly the spotlight was on Vanna White and whether she would stay. Vanna wants to stay, and she was already negotiating her new contract with her new ballbuster lawyer when Sajak announced his retirement. As it turned out, Vanna hired the lawyer because she hasn’t gotten a raise in 18 years, and she’s asking for half of what Pat Sajak made – he made about $15 million per year, so she probably wants about $7.5 million a year, as opposed to the $3 million she’s made annually for the past 18 years. When Ryan Seacrest was announced as Sajak’s replacement, I had a really bad feeling that Seacrest would find some way to oust Vanna. Well, guess what? Vanna’s getting the vibe that producers believe she’s “replaceable.”

Vanna White feels like Wheel Of Fortune bosses think she is ‘replaceable’ and have a ‘lack of respect for her’ after they hired Ryan Seacrest as longtime host Pat Sajak’s successor without offering her a chance to take on the role. A source close to White, 66, told exclusively that she was ‘disappointed’ that they made a decision about Seacrest, 48, so quickly – with show executives announcing Seacrest as the new host less than two weeks after Sajak, 76, publicly revealed he was retiring.

‘She was disappointed that they didn’t give her more of a chance to take over Pat’s job, or that she wasn’t able to give her two cents on the replacement,’ the insider said. ‘She didn’t assume they would be making the announcement of his replacement so soon.’

The source was quick to emphasize White had ‘nothing but respect for Ryan and will be happy to work with him, but it just shows a lack of respect in her eyes that they have for her. She wants to be with the show for as long as she wants to be on the show, on her terms. She believes she deserves it,’ the insider added.

‘It is a major uphill battle, especially when money is involved and she sees the writing on the wall that they think she is replaceable. There will be lots of negotiations, but if she gets replaced and is not given a new contract, she will be beyond heartbroken. This has been her life, it would be just as powerful as a death if she doesn’t continue with the show.’

The insider further elaborated the transition that the retirement of Wheel’s longtime executive producer Harry Friedman, 76, in August 2019 was what initially seemed to set in motion a new era for the game show.

‘Things got a little bit different with the show for Pat and Vanna during COVID, as the atmosphere changed on set once [Harry] left the show and retired,’ they said. ‘It just wasn’t the same vibe… Nobody dislikes anyone, it is just different, and the leverage that Pat and Vanna once had is not there anymore. Pat saw the writing on the wall and thought if there was ever a time to leave, now would be that time.’

As for Vanna, the source added: ‘She usually… keeps to herself, comes to work, does her thing, and leaves. She is friendly with everyone, but with the new regime, she doesn’t have the clout she once had, is no longer bulletproof, and is unfortunately made to feel replaceable. She doesn’t want to retire and leave the show, so she really hopes she doesn’t get pushed out. That is the last thing on her list to happen, she wants to stay, but she also wants it to be fair and is going to fight for what she believes in and what she deserves.’

[From The Daily Mail]

Who knew that Wheel of Fortune had all of these backroom politics and in-fighting to the point where Sajak and White would need “leverage” with one particular producer? I guess the corporate perspective was “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – Vanna and Pat provided an ocean of stability for the game show, but now that Sajak is out, the business believes that it’s worth exploring all kinds of other options. Which I sort of understand from a cold, business perspective. But I think the WoF bosses are really underestimating Vanna’s popularity, and her ability to do reputational damage to the show if she’s treated poorly or fired outright.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

50 Responses to “Vanna White worries that ‘Wheel of Fortune’ producers see her as ‘replaceable’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Twin Falls says:

    A boss that doesn’t give a raise for 18 years, doesn’t value the employee. I wouldn’t be surprised if they replace her with a younger, less expensive female.

    • ME says:

      Did she say she ever asked for a raise? If she never asked, then why would she get a raise? She needed better representation. Also, she has a right to feel replaceable, because in Hollywood she is. They probably want some young influencer to take her place, one with a huge social media following. But then again, would young people tune in to this show? Probably not.

      • Twin Falls says:

        Are you the champion for the oppressor on every thread now?

      • pk says:

        No, I agree. You wanna raise? Ask for it. Her managers should have been on that. They failed her.

      • DK says:

        So, to recap many of these comments:

        Vanna: I didn’t get a raise for 18 years.

        Internet: That’s your fault for not asking for one!

        Vanna: I’m asking for one now.

        Internet: You are replaceable! You get paid more than enough! Younger women will settle for less money!

        And you wonder why so many women don’t feel empowered to negotiate for their real worth?

    • Ula1010 says:

      I haven’t seen anything saying that she did or didn’t ask for a raise throughout the years. You’d think her management would take care of that. If not, she was screwed on multiple sides.

      I don’t care what industry someone works in though, it should be expected to get at least a cost of living raise, every year. I also want to point out that its quite possible she did ask for a raise. We need to talk more about the other side of “Ask for it” because its not uncommon to hear the word, “No.”

      She’s always had less power in this situation. Also, Pat could have helped her out. Advocated for her. He had the power to do that.

      • ME says:

        Yes, good points. Also, we don’t know that Pat didn’t advocate for her. Maybe he did? Maybe she did ask for a raise, maybe she didn’t. I just don’t understand why she would pay for management for them to let her down like this. It’s their job to make sure she’s being paid fairly. She shouldn’t have to beg and plead or even get Pat on her side. Her management really ultimately failed her.

        @ Twin Falls – yeah I love standing up for the oppressors, you know being a WOC myself and dealing with so much shit my whole life from oppressors. But carry on.

    • Scout says:

      Mmmmm…3 million per year? 54 million dollars in 18 years for a game show hostess? That sounds pretty good to me. I bet she is the highest paid in her field.

      And one cruel fact of life: Everyone is replaceable.

      • Severine says:

        Word. Turning letters for $3M a year? Where do I sign up?

      • Thinking says:

        To be honest, I was surprised she makes only 3 million a year.

        She’s been onthat show for so long, I thought she made more. It’s not that she does or doesn’t deserve more – I just assumed her salary was higher based on her fame level for a game show.

    • Debbie says:

      Ever since hearing that she has been making the same amount for 18 years, I suspected that fear of being replaced with a younger model was the reason Vanna White didn’t ask for a raise during all these years. Let’s face it, for models on these game shows who were hired to be “eye candy” while showing off the prizes or turning letters, every time they got a little older, they were replaced by a new crop of women. So, I think that she may have thought about asking for a raise but may have thought. “Well, maybe they won’t give it to me, and it may get them thinking about a younger woman who would take less money.” Women on game shows are not often still working as models at 61 years old, so I kind of understand her hesitation in “rocking the boat.”

  2. Jais says:

    It’s seems like it would be a mistake to add Ryan and then another person at the same time. WoF audiences are probably older and want to feel some sense of continuity. I really don’t think the audience wants to see Vanna replaced with some younger model. You’d think the producers would get that. Ryan and some random starting at the same time would be a totally different show. Maybe the producers want that but it doesn’t seem wise.

    • C says:

      I so agree. My grandparents had a rocky time with all the changes on DWTS and Regis and Kelly lol. This is probably even more beloved!

      • Green girl says:

        Agreed and that reminds me, did jeopardy! ever find a new permanent host? Alex’s death underscored how tough it is to be a gameshow presenter and keep audiences tuning in for decades. People like predictability with these types of shows. They don’t want a revolving door of presenters.

      • Juniper says:

        Agreed 100%. I used to volunteer for the PBS yearly fundraiser phone bank, and the schedule was always changed that week to their most popular shows to drive donations. People would call in all the time demanding to know why Lawrence Welk or X show wasn’t on at its regular time.

        They didn’t even realize LW been dead for many years so, yeah I totally get that a change to two completely different hosts would be abrupt.

    • Robert Wright says:

      They don’t need to bring in some random person, they might keep continuity by bringing in Sajak’s daughter who has filled in multiple times for Vanna.
      Torch passing and all that…

      • Jais says:

        Lol, not sure that would be a torch passing. That would be a torch flaming out a former coworker.

  3. Brassy Rebel says:

    Vanna White has been turning letters on this show for decades. She’s very “fortunate” to only be finding out now that misogyny exists. Her pay in proportion to Sajak’s should have clued her in to the fact that she’s replaceable years ago. Better late than never.

    • frontporchsittin says:

      This quote didn’t age well:

      “She explained her position on the topic in an interview with The Believer. When asked if she was a feminist, White explained why not.

      “No… I feel very fortunate to have the job I have,” White said. “I feel that I’m the co-host of the show. Pat is the host, but we are a team. I don’t feel that he’s better than me, or I’m better than him. I feel equal to him, you know what I mean? When I first started the show thirty-six years ago, people made fun of me. ‘Oh my gosh, she’s a letter turner. Really?’ Hey, it doesn’t bother me in the least. I love my job.”

  4. BlueNailsBetty says:

    The producers absolutely see Vanna as replaceable. If they genuinely appreciated and valued all the work, on stage and in promos, Vanna did they wouldn’t have screwed her over on her salary.

    And you know Ryan got a sweetheart deal that includes producing credit and back end pay. He’ll probably end up making more than Pat did.

    • ME says:

      I’m honestly wondering how much Ryan is getting paid. Has it been made public? It’s probably a ridiculous amount.

      • lucy2 says:

        I kind of hope someone leaks that info. I bet it’s a fortune. And it’s a mistake, I don’t know anyone who actually likes him and wants to see him host things. Usually the reaction is some form of “that guy again?” and “he does too many things.”

        It bothers me that Vanna and/or her management let her contract stand as is for EIGHTEEN YEARS, especially with all the changes in the industry throughout that time. Unfortunately I think she’s probably correct here, they’re going to see her as replaceable and use this opportunity to cut her loose, avoid paying her a higher salary, and will hire someone else cheap. She and Sajak should have been a packaged deal, she should have gotten a raise every time he did, and now it’s probably too late. For her sake I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see them doubling her money and keeping her on for years to come.

      • ME says:

        @ lucy2
        100 % agree with you. I bet Ryan’s salary is something jaw dropping.

    • goofpuff says:

      Ugh I find Ryan Seacrest annoying to watch. How is he getting so much work?

  5. Kathgal says:

    Who is watching WoF? Are they bringing new viewers in? (I am guessing they hope to with Ryan). Just a guess, but I would be willing to bet that the folks who are watching have already been watching for years. Those viewers will want to have the stability and familiarity of Vanna. Don’t underestimate those viewers, if she is gone don’t be surprised if a big chunk of viewers go too. I also can’t believe she went that long without a raise…where was her agent/lawyer??

  6. Seraphina says:

    Well this is a harsh lesson for us normal people early in our careers. Everyone is replaceable, especially when the bottom line is involved.

    • MF says:

      Yes. This is why you must *always* advocate for yourself and *always, always* do what’s best for you. Not your employer. Not your boss. Not your coworkers. Look out for yourself, because nobody else will!!

    • Slush says:

      Very much this. And further, she’s a woman in Hollywood. Of course she’s seen as replaceable.

  7. FancyPants says:

    I wonder though if she has always known they’d be happy to replace her with somebody cheaper, and that’s why she hasn’t pushed harder for a raise before now. In my opinion, Vanna is the heart of the show, much more so than Pat. I can remember when I was growing up in the 80s “Vanna White” was synonymous with beautiful, and she is even written into song lyrics. I don’t think older viewers like my grandfather would be happy about her being replaced simply for money (but at the same time, he’ll still watch it so who knows). I tuned in for the first time in many years last night out of curiosty because of this news, and it was a celebrity episode with three contestants I’ve never heard of, so I’m obviously way out of touch here.

    • Ula1010 says:

      I also grew up in the 80s. I agree with your assessment of how she was thought of at that time. She was, indeed, a big deal.

  8. girl_ninja says:

    It would be a huge mistake to let Vanna go instead of paying her. Especially with Ryan coming in as the new host. They need to just pay her and move forward.

  9. Kat says:

    Maybe I’m just in a bad mood, but she’s getting paid $3M to turn letters and has had a steady gig doing this for decades. I want to be self righteous about a woman being undercut but…I want to be paid $3M to turn letters on a game show, and that’s not even remotely what I have on the agenda today, budget or task-wise. 🙁

    • Ms single malt says:

      Google tells me the current filming schedule of Wheel of Fortune consists of four taping days per month. Each day, six episodes are taped. So if you break down their respective salaries, Pat Sajaks earned $312,500 per workday while Vanna makes $62,500 per workday.

      I agree that Vanna is the heart of the show. I think she deserves a raise after 18 years. I think she was the perfect balance to Sajak. It was time for Sajak to retire. I was surprised that Vanna was not ready to retire as well.

      • Ms single malt says:

        I think Vanna has appeal to viewers. And for some reason lost to me, Seacrest keeps getting hired. I just don’t get the appeal. And I find his dating history questionable. He is 48 and dating a 25 year old model for the past 2 years. Though I’m sure she is ‘mature for her she’s or whatever the usual line is.

    • Jais says:

      I’m assuming the show brings in a lot of advertising money and a lot of that money is going somewhere. To some executive. No reason not to give more per year to one of the two main faces of the show.

    • j says:

      And Pat stands there having awkward conversations with strangers. Yet he gets PAID. And he gets RAISES. The idea that women should shut up and be grateful for crumbs is really, really goddamn sad. So in conclusion…yes you are in a bad mood! I can tell from your comment that you’re undervalued at work too, and you probably deserve a lot more than you get. The point is that for every Vanna that succeeds and moves upward, there’s cultural precedence for the rest of us to advocate for more for ourselves.

    • Donna says:

      I agree, they don’t need her at all. They can get the letters to turn themselves. Pat Sajak at least has to host and keep the game going. She’s lucky she’s had the job as long as she has.

  10. Rose says:

    Pay her more PERIODT.
    I’m sick of the inequality in the workplace and wage gaps and manipulating women and POC to feel like they don’t deserve more. We AT LEAST deserve what the mediocre white men get paid. You know how likely it is that through micro aggressions and false accusations of incompetence Vanna was psychologically dissuaded from going harder for better pay before. It happens to a lot of us and it’s really difficult to see it for what it is when you’re experiencing it. She’s an icon and right now an inspiration to a lot of us who know we deserve better and are pushing back. Get that $$$ Vanna!

  11. Cindy says:

    I am an older viewer (72). I started watching with my mother years ago and believe the show will fall apart without Vanna. Ryan Seacrest gives my heartburn but I would watch if Vanna is on. If she is gone it’s the death of WoF in this house.

    • j says:

      Couldn’t agree more with you. I’m a (relatively!) younger viewer at 38, but I sincerely love Vanna. I can’t stand Ryan Seacrest either…what a bummer. The show is a nightly ritual in my house and I’m worried they’ll ruin it like Jeopardy. I commented further below but I strongly believe that Maggie Sajak will replace Vanna within one year and they’ll push it as a “legacy” thing. Which I’m sure Pat will have orchestrated entirely :'(

  12. j says:

    Mark my words – Maggie Sajak will replace Vanna in one year.

  13. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    I don’t think Vanna is worth the same at Pat. Pat has to banter with the contestants and be ready to respond to whatever weird thing they may say, and needs to project a certain charm and energy to set the tone for the show. Vanna just needs to fit into the gowns and turn letters. That may sound harsh, but the reality is she was hired as a thin, attractive, blonde woman, to be eye candy, and nothing else. That makes her absolutely replaceable. Again, I am not a misogynist by any stretch, but that’s the reality of her (imho, stupid/ridiculous) “job.” She’s lucky to have made as much money as she has and not be replaced yet.

    The bigger question is, WHY does the host have to be male, while the eye candy turning letters be female? THAT is the misogyny. Maybe Vanna should lobby to be host – I would totally support having more women be hosts. But if she remains a “letter turner,” then I think she’s already overpaid.

  14. smee says:

    I’d love to know the current demographics for WoF, bc I bet it’s an older crowd these days. Long-time viewers that like Vanna and don’t like change. If they think the charisma-less RS will bring in new viewers if they just add a sexy young woman to the mix, they’re sadly mistaken.

    It does seem crazy that she didn’t raised the $ issue earlier and that PS didn’t give her a heads-up on his plans. Maybe he did, but it doesn’t seem like she used it to her advantage.

  15. Libra says:

    Maybe she did have her agent ask for a raise and I’ll bet the answer was, “take it or leave it, 3 million is it or else we will find someone else who will do it for less”. Very common for women, especially, to be threatened into accepting less because we have been told we are worth less.

  16. Debbie says:

    Oh, my goodness. This writer wrote that since Covid, and a longtime executive producer’s leaving, Vanna White “no longer had the clout she once had, and was no longer bullet proof.” How can someone claim to be, or be portrayed as, “bullet proof” when they could not ask for, or get a raise, for 18 years? I just don’t get it.

  17. Elsa says:

    I can’t believe people think that all she did was turn letters. She was the heart of the show and deserved to be paid more.

  18. Mattie says:

    i don’t watch WOF but my mom did. I will say and this is my honest realistic view on this, they will replace her because of her age as opposed to the new younger host of the show. She is 66 and Ryan is 48. They are gonna go with some one younger than Seacrest. If the entertainment establishment won’t even cast an actress of the same age of an actor for a movie they sure as hell not gonna keep an ” elderly” woman in their eyes to stay in front of the camera