There is no Wheel of Fortune without Vanna White but, shockingly, Page Six reports, the game show’s cohost hasn’t had a pay increase in nearly two decades (18 years, to be exact). That’s all about to change though, as White has agreed to cohost the show—this time alongside Ryan Seacrest, who will step in for longtime host Pat Sajak in 2024—for two more years and is getting a “substantial pay increase” from her current $3 million per year salary to do so.
For comparison’s sake Sajak, who announced he would be leaving the show back in June after the end of this season, is paid $15 million annually—five times what White is paid.
White and Sajak started their respective tenures at Wheel of Fortune at the same time in 1982 and, in her contract negotiations for the next two years, White was reportedly asking for at least half of what Sajak made. Sources told Page Six that White’s lawyer Bryan Freedman was involved in “very difficult negotiations” and was even thinking about filing a gender discrimination lawsuit due to the massive pay disparity between the two cohosts, despite the two starting their run on the show at the same time and doing similar roles.
As Seacrest joins the program next year, he will make $28 million annually, cementing him as the highest-paid host on television. Page Six reports that Seacrest’s hiring—without apparently, as the outlet reports, giving White “more of a chance to take over Pat’s job”—rubbed White the wrong way, and made her feel as though producers had a “lack of respect for her.” White was also allegedly upset that she “wasn’t able to give her two cents on the replacement,” they said. “It just shows a lack of respect in her eyes that they have for her.”
“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,” a source said. “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.” Yet, despite her disappointment, the source said White is “happy to work with” Seacrest, who she deeply “respects.”
As White closed her two-year deal—keeping her on the show until at least 2026—her exact salary is heretofore undisclosed. Seacrest responded to the closed deal, telling Today host Willie Geist on an upcoming episode of Sunday Today with Willie Geist “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 shared his belief that White is an essential part of the game show, saying “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, ‘Okay, let’s get to it.’” He added that he’s “very happy I get to work with her” and that, because she’s been on the show for 41 years, she will be a comfort to him as he adjusts to his new gig.
Why are we still having pay disparity conversations—especially of this magnitude—in 2023? Let’s not have another 41 years pass before we figure it out.
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Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.
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