Vanna White takes a spin as host of 'Wheel of Fortune'
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Vanna White takes a spin as host of 'Wheel of Fortune'

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Big wheels keep on turning — even when Pat Sajak gets sick.

So when the "Wheel of Fortune" host had emergency surgery last month, his longtime sidekick Vanna White had to commandeer the popular game show, all while worrying about her friend and coworker.

Beginning Monday, White took her turn in the spotlight, when her first episode as host hit the air.

"It was terrible," White said during a "Good Morning America" interview last week. "You think the worst because you never know — when you're going in for surgery. You just never know. I was scared to death."

Sajak's operation to repair a blocked intestine was successful, and he returned to work.

Doing the show without Sajak was "just horrible," White said.

"We've been together 37 years, and it's not the same," she said. "We are a team. We are together. It just felt weird with him not being here on the set."

"I was petrified, terrified. But I did it," she said.

That doesn't mean she wasn't reluctant, especially at first.

Soon after Sajak got sick on the eve of a taping on Nov. 7, producers asked the 62-year-old television veteran how she would feel about taking the wheel (literally).

"I was like, 'What? No. You're kidding, right?'" she recalled. "And my first thought was, 'There's no way.' I don't pay attention to Pat."

"I'm busy with my letters and my puzzle board," she added, laughing.

"I mean, I'm hearing him, but I don't really pay that much attention. Don't tell anybody that," she quipped.

Her nerves didn't really subside until Sajak's wife called to let her know that he was making jokes after surgery.

"I knew that he was feeling better, that was the absolute key," she said of her desire to give it a spin.

White previously filled in for Sajak, but only for one segment — in 1996 when he got laryngitis.

White will be the host on the next two weeks of shows, when the syndicated program's two-week "Secret Santa Holiday Giveaway" promotion — where viewers have the chance to win everything an in-studio contestant wins — kicks off.

She shot a third week of shows, scheduled in early January.

And now that Sajak, 73, is back on duty, the duo, who in May did their 7,000th show, have plenty of shows ahead of them. Both are under contract through 2022.

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