People watching "Wheel of Fortune" several years ago may have noticed that the game show's typically cheerful host, Pat Sajak, was in higher spirits than usual.
The 65-year-old recently revealed in a lively interview on the ESPN2 television show "Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable" that he and letter-turner Vanna White used to film several episodes of the show after drinking "two or three or six" margaritas. (watch video)
When asked by host LeBatard, "Have you ever done 'Wheel of Fortune' a little bit drunk?," Sajak replied: "Yes. When I first started and was much younger and could tolerate those things."
Sajak has hosted "Wheel of Fortune" on and off since 1981. The series debuted in 1975 and has aired on several networks throughout the years.
"Wheel of Fortune" is among the top syndicated shows in the United States. Its original name was "Shoppers Bazaar" and included a larger money wheel than the one seen today, which contestants spin to get a chance to pick letters or name a word or phrase on a board managed by White.
"We had a different show then," Sajak said. "You didn't win money. You won fake money, with which you could buy cheesy prizes. A turn-table would go around and housewives from Teaneck would go, 'Oh, for a hundred dollars, I'll have the lamp. No I'll have the-' It was the most boring two minutes of television. But because we had all those prizes, we had endless time between shows."
"Our dinner breaks would be two and a half hours long, while they drove in new cars and boats and gazebos and stuff," he said. "So we had, at NBC at Burbank, we had a place called Los Arcos, across the street, which is Spanish, as you know, for 'The Arcos.' And they served great margaritas, so ... Vanna and I would go across and have two or three or six. And then come and do the last shows and have trouble recognizing the alphabet."
Sajak did not specify when or how many times he hosted "Wheel of Fortune" while intoxicated but said he had a "great time" doing it.
"I had no idea if the shows were any good but no one said anything, so I guess, I guess I did okay. Now, if I were to enhale the cork in a bottle of wine, I would probably keel over. I'm getting a little older for this. So we don't do that," he said, before joking: "I would be hesitant to have anything to drink now, although I'm hammered at this moment."
Before he made his "Wheel of Fortune" debut, Sajak worked as a television weatherman in Los Angeles and as a radio DJ in the United States and in Saigon during the Vietnam war in the 1960s.
"I was the 'Good morning Vietnam' guy,' he said on "Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable." It was actually fun, if you can call a war 'fun.' it was good training for me."
"There was terrorist stuff going on in the city, in Saigon, where I was, but I wasn't out in the front," he added. "It's funny, you get used to anything. I'd look out the window and there'd be these pretty streets and I would eventually lose sight of the fact that there was barbed wire, you know, and tanks going by. You adapt to things, so after a while it just seemed like another job in a big market."