Vanna White absent from ‘Wheel of Fortune’ due to COVID-19

Vanna White will be absent from several episodes of “Wheel of Fortune” as she reportedly recovers from COVID-19.

The Times confirmed Friday that “Wheel” has tapped “Teacher of the Year” recipient Bridgette Donald-Blue to fill in for the famous letter-turner for five episodes. A source familiar with production said White was out sick in late July and missed a day of filming during the show’s Teachers Week.

News of the beloved “Wheel” co-host’s absence comes amid reports of tense contract negotiations with Sony and the show’s producers. White, who has been on the series for more than four decades, is said to be making half of what outgoing host Pat Sajak earns and reportedly has not received a raise in 18 years.

This will mark the first time in more than 30 years that White has missed the game show. She has only been absent on three prior occasions, according to TVLine.

Before the brief search for Sajak’s successor came to an end, fans had campaigned 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 humbled to be stepping into the footsteps of the legendary Pat Sajak,” Seacrest announced. “I can say, along with the rest of America, that it’s been a privilege and 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 the five instructors named 2023 California Teachers of the Year by the California Teachers Association in October.

“I am honored to be selected as a 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.”

Times staff writer Nardine Saad contributed to this report.

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