Vanna White will be absent from several episodes of Wheel of Fortune as she has reportedly recovered from COVID-19.
The Times confirmed Friday that “Wheel” has selected Teacher of the Year winner Bridgette Donald-Blue to replace the famous letterwriter for five episodes. A source familiar with the production said White was ill in late July and missed a day of filming during the series’ Teachers’ Week.
The news of the beloved “Wheel” co-host’s absence comes right in the middle reports tense contract negotiations with Sony and the show’s producers. White, who has been on the show for more than four decades, is supposed to do half of what outgoing host Pat Sajak is making and has reportedly not received a pay raise in 18 years.
This will be the first time White has missed the game show in more than 30 years. She has only been absent three times so far, according to TVLine.
Before the brief search for Sajak’s replacement came to an end, fans had lobbied for White to replace her longtime co-star.
In June, the game show announced that mega producer and TV host Ryan Seacrest would succeed the retiring Sajak.
“I’m truly honored to be following in the footsteps of the legendary Pat Sajak,” Seacrest announced. “Like the rest of America, I can say it was a privilege and a pure joy to watch Pat and Vanna [White] on our television screens for an unprecedented 40 years.”
Donald-Blue, a fourth grade teacher at Coliseum Street Elementary, was one of five teachers named 2023 California Teacher of the Year by the California Teachers Association October.
“I’m honored to be named California Teacher of the Year,” she said in October. “It is a privilege to work with the students, teachers, staff and parents of Los Angeles Unified.”
Nardine Saad, a Times contributor, contributed to this report.