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Vanna White Missing "Wheel of Fortune" for First Time in 30 Years—Here's Why

The game show will have someone else turning the letters while Vanna White is out.

Pat Sajak may be on his way out, but it's hard to imagine Wheel of Fortune without Vanna White turning the letters. The 66-year-old former model has been a mainstay on the series since 1982, and you'd have to go far back in the archives to find any episodes from the last four decades without her. In fact, when White misses five upcoming episodes, it will be the first time in 30 years the show will go on in her absence. Read on to learn why she'll be MIA, and who will be replacing her while she's gone.

RELATED: Vanna White May Leave Wheel of Fortune Amid Shocking Revelations About Her Salary.

Vanna White will miss five episodes of Wheel of Fortune this fall.

Vanna White on "Wheel of Fortune" in 2022
Wheel of Fortune / YouTube

According to multiple reports, White will be absent from Wheel of Fortune during the show's annual "Teacher's Week," meaning she'll miss a total of five episodes. As Puck first reported, the game show host contracted COVID at the end of July and was unable to film.

But while getting sick and missing work is something we all have to deal with from time to time, White has impeccable attendance. TVLine notes that her upcoming time off will be the first episodes she's skipped out on in 30 years.

According to Us Weekly, White's last missed episodes were in 1991, first when she took two weeks off for her honeymoon with now-ex-husband George Santo Pietro, and then again when she got sick. On both occasions, Tricia Gist stepped in for her temporarily.

While Sony did not comment on White missing filming, a Wheel of Fortune insider told TV Line that the show was not able to move the episodes to accommodate White's illness.

"Teachers had already arrived in L.A. to tape the episodes and, with the academic school year starting, it was not feasible to reschedule that day," the source said.

RELATED: Here's Why Everyone's Mad at Wheel of Fortune Right Now.

She'll be replaced by Bridgette Donald-Blue.

screenshot of video of bridgette donald-blue winning teacher of the year
LACOE / YouTube

But Wheel of Fortune is making sure there's someone worthy taking White's place for the five episodes she's off. As the show insider told TVLine, "In keeping with the 'Teachers Week' theme … Bridgette Donald-Blue graciously agreed fill in for Vanna for those five episodes."

If you don't recognize the name, that's because Donald-Blue is not an established TV personality, but a real teacher at Los Angeles' Coliseum Street Elementary School—and a celebrated one. She was recently named the 2023 California Teacher of the Year.

RELATED: Pat Sajak Slams Wheel of Fortune Fans Who Think the Show Is "Fixed."

White's future on the show is still unclear.

Vanna White at the Chrysalis Butterfly Ball in 2019
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

White's fans can rest easy knowing her Season 41 absence will be brief, and that they'll be in good hands while she's gone. But the host's long-term future on the show remains unclear.

After Sajak announced that he would be retiring at the end of the next season, White has been locked in contract re-negotiations, according to a report from Puck. Per the outlet, she's hired high-powered attorney Bryan Freedman in the hopes of securing a raise, which she hasn't gotten in 18 years.

Puck notes that because the letters no longer need to be manually turned, it's possible that Wheel of Fortune would get rid of White's role entirely, allowing her to exit alongside Sajak. But a source close to the show told TVLine there "is no plan to eliminate Vanna's role," and said, "Sony is in active discussions to renew Vanna's deal beyond her current contract."

Ryan Seacrest will be stepping in as host for Season 42.

ryan seacrest on the red carpet
DFree / Shutterstock

Sajak, however, is leaving for certain. In a statement printed by The Hollywood Reporter, the host of the past four decades said, "Well, the time has come. I've decided that our 41st season, which begins in September, will be my last. It's been a wonderful ride, and I'll have more to say in the coming months. Many thanks to you all. (If nothing else, it'll keep the clickbait sites busy!)"

On June 27, Ryan Seacrest was announced as the new host of Wheel of Fortune for Season 42, which will begin filming and airing in 2024.

"I'm truly humbled to be stepping into the footsteps of the legendary Pat Sajak," Seacrest said in a statement published by the New York Post. "I can say, along with the rest of America, that it's been a privilege and pure joy to watch Pat and Vanna on our television screens for an unprecedented 40 years, making us smile every night and feel right at home with them."

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