LOS ANGELES (NEWSnet/AP) — With 41 years and over 8,000 episodes to his credit, Pat Sajak’s final episode as the host of “Wheel of Fortune” will air Friday.

Sajak’s co-host Vanna White paid an emotional tribute to her partner on Thursday’s episode, calling him “like a brother” and a “true lifelong friend.” In the pre-recorded video that featured clips and photos of their 41 years as co-workers, she added that their personal friendship has meant even more than their professional collaboration.

White’s heartfelt farewell message for Sajak, in which she was holding back tears, tees Sajak up for what will likely be a memorable finish on Friday’s episode.

Sajak announced in June 2023 that he would retire from his hosting duties at the end of the show’s 41st season, with Ryan Seacrest set to succeed him.

White will remain as Seacrest’s co-host through the 2025-2026 season, based on a contract extension she signed in September.

“I’ve had time to sort of get used to it and it’s been a little bit wistful and all that, but I’m enjoying it and taking it all in and reflecting on a great run,” Sajak said in a recent interview.

Looking back on his time with the popular game show, Sajak said he is grateful for how audiences across the country connected with the show and made it a part of their daily routines.

“Somewhere along the line, we became more than a popular show. We became a part of popular culture, and more importantly, we became a part of people’s lives,” he said. “That’s been awfully gratifying.”

Follow NEWSnet on Facebook and X platform to get our headlines in your social feeds.

Copyright 2024 NEWSnet and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.