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Vanna White doesn’t work too many days each year as co-host of Wheel of Fortune, at least when she’s on stage. In fact, she tapes the show only 36 days a year, touching the letters to reveal letters chosen by “Wheel” contestants. Her salary is a little more of a secret, although she and host Pat Sajak re-negotiated their contracts in late 2018, which are reportedly good through 2022.
Vanna White Salary Earnings
Vanna White salary earnings on “Wheel” are an estimated $4 million a year. Pat Sajak earns $15 million. In addition, White earns money from a knitting line known as Vanna’s Choice and a few other investments. She has real estate investments, in addition to her line of knitting yarn, and she still brings in money from the sales of her memoir that was written in 1987. She once enjoyed flipping houses. Her longtime boyfriend, Josh Donaldson, owns a construction and development firm. Her net worth is said to be up to $50 million, and she has donated over $1 million to St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
What She Does
White, 62 in February 2019, wears a different gown for each show, and she’s worn nearly 7,000 gowns in her 36-year career at “Wheel.” Show tapings average four long days each month. A week’s worth of shows is taped in one day. She and Sajak also do some traveling and location shots for the show.
White touches the rectangles, hiding alphabetical letters that contestants select. She once turned them, but computerized letters now mean she just touches them. She knows the answers to each puzzle, so that helps her know which rectangles to touch. White doesn’t say much during the show, but her signature gowns often keep fans tuning in.
Women will write to her to ask where they can get a dress. White chooses the dresses from designer samples, wears them for one 30-minute show, and changes into a new gown for the next show. The gowns are then returned to the designers. White also claps a lot, and earned a Guinness Book of World Records designation for clapping in 1992. She and Sajak exchange only a few words each show, and most viewers know that she’s a cat lover. If there’s a technical malfunction, she’ll often chat with the audience, about her kids, her cat and other benign topics, keeping them entertained until things get rolling again.
How She Got to 'Wheel'
White, who grew up in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, wanted to be an actress after seeing her uncle, Christopher George, on TV’s “Rat Patrol” in the 1960s. At 23, she headed for Hollywood. She appeared on “The Price is Right,” and did some modeling and acting. She also had some lingerie photos taken for Playboy, which she said she did to pay the rent while she seeking acting jobs. After gaining fame on “Wheel,” one of the photos appeared on a Playboy cover, raising some eyebrows. She went on "The Tonight Show" to explain why she did it, which satisfied her fans.
She auditioned for the “Wheel of Fortune” job when the show's previous letter turner decided to move on back in 1982. Sajack, a former weatherman and DJ, has been the "Wheel of Fortune" host since 1981. White clicked with the audience and show creator Merv Griffin recommended she get the job.
Vanna Keeps Going
She and Sajak keep their chemistry alive on the small screen each weeknight. White says she prefers short gowns to long gowns, because she can’t trip over short dresses. White is a divorced mother of two now-grown children, and she occasionally posts photos of her son and daughter on Instagram.
When she’s not working, she enjoys being home, wearing jeans, sneakers and sweatshirts and no makeup. She crochets and works out in her home gym. At one time, she wanted to be an actress, but after she had kids, she realized that her schedule gave her plenty of time to earn a good living and still be home with her kids.
- TIME: 6 Vanna White Facts to Blow Your Mind
- ABC News: 6,500 Dresses Later: 'Wheel of Fortune' host Vanna White on Pat Sajak; Why She Loves her Job
- New York Post: Vanna White: 'People Make Fun of My Job and That's Fine'
- Washington Post: Vanna White: Let the Great Wheel Spin
- Celebrity Net Worth: Vanna White Net Worth
- Forbes: The World's Highest Paid TV Hosts: Dr Phil Leads With $88 Million
- Good Housekeeping: What is Pat Sajak's Net Worth?
- Hollywood Reporter: Alex Trebek, Pat Sajak, Vanna White Renew Contracts Through 2022
Karen Gardner is a writer and editor who spent many years in community journalism. Her worklife began as a Library Page, shelving books in a local library, and selling children's clothing in a department store. Those early customer service experiences gave her the foundation she needed to navigate through tricky office situations in later jobs.
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