‘Wheel of Fortune’ superfan who’s been watching since birth sad to see Pat Sajak go

'Wheel of Fortune' superfan who's been watching since birth sad to see Pat Sajak go
Arthur Gallant and his mom are pictured on the Wheel of Fortune TV game show set. Gallant, a superfan, says they attended show tapings in 2010 and 2011.

When Arthur Gallant recalls stories of his birth, he says his grandma requested a TV be in the delivery room so the family could watch Wheel of Fortune.

“Even when my mom went into labour with me, my grandma was like, ‘Is there a TV here to watch Wheel?'” said Gallant.

“Then she held me and watched it.”

It’s a tradition that keeps spinning for Gallant, now 34, who lives in Calgary, Alta., but has watched the long-running TV game show on Victoria-based CHEK.

“I think I’m the biggest superfan,” he says, sharing pictures of his first car, which had a “WOF FAN” custom license plate and a photo of him and his mom on the back window, showing fond memories of the pair on the Wheel set.

They travelled to Los Angeles, CA, for studio tapings in 2010 and 2011.

“They say a picture says a thousand words, and you can see that,” said Gallant in an interview. “I couldn’t believe I was there after watching the show for so many years.”

He even has the Wheel logo tattooed on his arm.

“I’ve constantly Googled, ‘Does anyone else have a Wheel tattoo?’ Nothing has come up on Google,” he said. “I’m like an encyclopedia of Wheel of Fortune facts. I could literally write a book someday.”

Because for him, the show has always been there through “good times and bad.”

“I grew up in an abusive home, but all the chaos stopped when I put Wheel on,” said Gallant. “I spent half my childhood in foster care, and I remember being on the phone with my mom, and we would watch the show together.”

He remembers watching Wheel with his grandma up until her death in 2002, and years later, in 2019, when he and his mom were together again in a hospital room.

“Even when my mom was in the ICU dying, the hospital staff said, ‘What do you need?’ I said, ‘I need to watch Wheel with her one more time,'” said Gallant.

“They had a TV brought in.”

Sajak signing off for good

So last June, he was stunned to learn that long-time host Pat Sajak, 77, who’d been on the show for more than four decades, was retiring at the end of the 41st season.

“It’s been a wonderful ride…” said Sajak when his retirement was announced.

It was “life-altering” news for Gallant.

“He’s an institution. I’m sad to see him go,” he added.

“I don’t want to call him a family member, but maybe a friend. It’s someone who has been in my living room six nights a week for as long as I’ve been alive.”

Ryan Seacrest, 49, is set to take over hosting duties later this year, with Vanna White, 67, staying on as co-host. Like Sajak, White’s also been on the show since the early ’80s. And when the latter decides to call it quits?

“I don’t know if I can go through this again,” laughed Gallant.

Seacrest, who also hosts American Idol, is no stranger to TV screens, though Gallant wishes Wheel producers would have opted for a fresh face.

“Pat went from being a local celebrity to being this ginormous celebrity. I was kind of hoping lightning would strike twice — they’d find someone new instead of someone who’s already established,” said Gallant.

In a statement last year, Seacrest said he was “truly humbled” to follow in the footsteps of “the legendary” Sajak. 

“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,” he said.

‘An escape for me’

Gallant longs to compete on the show, in which contestants guess letters to try to fill out words and phrases in pursuit of money and prizes. It debuted in 1975 as a daytime game show but later became a syndicated nightly telecast.

“It is a dream of mine,” said Gallant, adding that producers don’t accept Canadian contestants. “If that ever changed, I’d be doing that application so fast.”

He says while Sajak and White go together like “peanut butter and jelly,” he’s also hopeful for what’s to come when Seacrest goes live.

“I think they’ll make it work,” said Gallant.

Of course he’ll still be watching, admitting it’s the “only consistent thing” in his life. “If I have a hard day at work, they will always be there. It’s an escape for me. It’s in my schedule; I know I can look forward to it.”

After all, it’s what first bonded him with his mom and grandma.

“Every night, it’s just nostalgic,” said Gallant.

“Even though I live alone with my cat, I still sort of pretend they’re on the couch with me … I pretend they’re there with me when I’m watching the show.”

New episodes of Wheel of Fortune air Mondays to Fridays at 7 p.m. on CHEK, while a repeat is usually every Saturday at 7 p.m. Sajak’s last episode will air this Friday, June 7, when the host’s farewell season comes to a close.

A new season premieres later this year.

“What is Wheel of Fortune without Pat? I guess we’ll find out in September,” added Gallant.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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