If your family is anything like mine, you probably grew up eating your dinner in front of the TV. And since no American family can ever agree on what to watch, we all settled for a game of Wheel of Fortune.
The crossword puzzle game show has been a TV staple since 1975, and host Pat Sajak joined on as the host in 1981. Even if you see him on TV every day, there's a lot you probably never knew about Sajak.
1. He's a Vietnam War veteran
Sajak joined the Army in 1968 and was shipped to Saigon. Having trouble imagining the TV host on the front lines? So did his commanding officers. Sajak became a disc jockey for Army radio, and once landed himself in hot water by cutting off a speech from President Nixon.
Sajak was later reassigned to the Pentagon, where he operated slide projectors for top secret presentations. Sajak says he learned a lot of "high-level secrets," but mostly about an upcoming postal worker strike.
2. He used to host episodes while he was drunk
Wheel is a family-friendly show, but Sajak admits that he and Vanna White were under the influence when they taped some early episodes. "Vanna and I would [...] come and do the last shows and have trouble recognizing the alphabet," Sajak remembered during a radio interview.
"I had a great time. I have no idea if the shows were any good, but no one said anything, so I guess I did okay.” Apparently a Mexican restaurant near the NBC studio was their preferred watering hole.
3. His schedule is pretty relaxed
Unlike most TV stars, Pat Sajak won't even pretend that his job is tough. He and Vanna famously work just one day each week, since they tape five or six episodes in a single day. While Vanna has to arrive early for hair and makeup, Sajak's schedule is more relaxed.
"It's the closest thing you do in in pretending you have a full-time job," Sajak said. "In dog years I've only done this show about nine years."
4. He's not a cheater
There's a popular conspiracy among Wheel Watchers that Pat Sajak can stop the wheel using a hidden "brake system." Fans who subscribe to this theory point out that the host never lands on the Bankrupt wheel piece during his Final Spin.
Of course, the truth is that Sajak does land on this space, those parts are just edited out of the broadcast. “It’s a crime to rig a game show,” the host explains, "and as much as I like our players, I’m not going to prison so someone can win a trip to the Bahamas.”
5. He has a favorite blooper
Being a contestant on Wheel is actually a lot harder than other shows, and contestants are strictly vetted before they're allowed to compete. Still, once in a while players struggle. Vanna fondly remembers the contestant who guessed "DONE WITH ONE HAND" for "GONE WITH THE WIND."
Meanwhile, Sajak's favorite flub is a little classier. "This is Wheel of Fortune Joe!"
Keep reading to learn why Sajak was paid to do nothing for nine months...