What Wheel of Fortune can do, Wall Street can, too

NEW YORK, June 13 (Reuters Breakingviews) – “Wheel of Fortune” is finally going to get a new host. After more than 40 years, the U.S. gameshow’s main man Pat Sajak, 76, is stepping down, paving the path for a new person to lead the evening program. He’s just the face of an operation that has many moving parts, and whose value derives from luck as well as skill. Some of Wall Street’s longest-standing corporate bosses might want to watch what happens next.

Sajak started hosting the program in 1981, and a year later was joined by model Vanna White who has stayed with him since. As master of ceremonies, Sajak creates banter and guides the game, which requires players to spin a wheel, guess a letter, and solve a puzzle that resembles a crossword. White parades across the stage, making the letters appear.

The charade that unfolds nightly on traditional American television has similarities to Wall Street. Picking a stock involves some skill, much like solving a word puzzle, but rewards can be random. The combination of luck and skill also produces irregular and unfair outcomes. And the people who are the ringmasters of the operation – Sajak in gameshow world, or executives like JPMorgan’s (JPM.N) Jamie Dimon and BlackRock’s (BLK.N) Larry Fink in finance-land – can, at times, unduly get credit or blame.

Sometimes the lead isn’t the one pulling the strings, though. White, for example, is known for her on-screen activities, never wearing the same dress twice. But according to Entertainment Weekly, she often works with the crew to come up with the puzzles herself. And so it may be no surprise that White is a mooted successor to Sajak. And earlier this year Sajak’s daughter replaced White as the letter-turner for one game where White became a contestant.

A seamless transition makes sense, but that can mean a clean break. Faces, like fashions, change. And while “Wheel of Fortune” fans and behind-the-scenes crew may feel as if the wheels won’t turn in quite the same way without their leading man around, it’s likely that Sajak – and his Wall Street counterparts – can step aside knowing the game will still go on.

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Pat Sajak, host of gameshow “Wheel of Fortune,” plans to retire at the end of his upcoming record 41st year, he said on June 12.

Sajak, 76, made the announcement on Twitter. “I’ve decided that our 41st season, which begins in September, will be my last. It’s been a wonderful ride, and I’ll have more to say in the coming months,” he wrote.

Editing by John Foley and Streisand Neto

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