Jay Leno made a promise to his wife Mavis that he’d leave “The Tonight Show” before he turned 60.

And that’s the real reason why the 54-year-old comedian announced that he’d turn over the reins of NBC’s venerable late night talk show to Conan O’Brien in five years.

“A long time ago I made a promise to my wife that I wasn’t going to be spending our so-called golden years working all the time, as I am now,” Jay told a friend.

“I told her I’d stop before I reached 60, and I intend on keeping that promise.

“This isn’t some ploy to squeeze more money out of the network. I have enough money. It’s time that I don’t have enough of!”

Said the friend: “Jay is still one of the hardest-working men in show business. He not only does ‘The Tonight Show,’ but when he’s not doing that he’s on the road doing corporate events and other shows.

“But he feels that all the money he makes is worthless if you don’t have the time to enjoy it with your loved ones.

“He quipped recently to a buddy, ‘What more do I need? I have all the cars I want now. The only thing I could never replace is my wife!'”