‘Jeopardy!’: Bob Costas Turned Down Chance to Host Show, Gave Advice on Who They Should Select

by Leanne Stahulak

“Jeopardy!” and Sony execs continue to scramble in their search for a permanent host after Mike Richards stepped down from the job.

Sony Pictures Television tapped the executive producer on Aug. 11. But in the weeks since fans found out about Richards’ potential appointment, they uncovered some unsavory moments from his past. His controversy caused him to step down from the host position of his own accord, leaving Sony to find a new host.

But finding someone to fill Alex Trebek’s shoes is no easy task. The longtime host led “Jeopardy!” for 37 years before passing away from pancreatic cancer this past November. While Trebek left an incredible legacy behind, it’s difficult to appoint someone who approaches the game with the same presence and grace.

And apparently, Sony once thought sportscaster Bob Costas had what it takes. According to Sportscasting, the game show approached the legendary sports announcer back in 2019 about being a “Jeopardy!” guest host. Sports columnist Jay Mariotti shared a text conversation he had with Costas recently. In the texts, Costas confirmed that he turned down the role.

“Would have been fun as a one-time experience, but I never saw myself as the right person for the job,’’ Costas said via text. But he also explained why he isn’t fit for the job and why others are.

“Whoever winds up doing it, I think he or she should be in their forties or early fifties,” Costas said. “That seems like the best fit. I know Alex was around 80, but he had the eternal equity with the audience and could have continued as long as he was able.” 

Costas is 69, so he clearly felt like “Jeopardy!” needed a younger presence than him. Interestingly enough, Richards fits into that age category. But so do numerous other guest hosts who took a shot on the “Jeopardy!” stage.

So, Who is ‘Jeopardy!’ Seriously Considering for the Next Permanent Host?

When Mike Richards was selected as a permanent host, fellow guest host Mayim Bialik also received a hosting gig. She’ll tackle the prime-time specials and tournaments for the game show, including the upcoming college tournament.

For a while, fans wondered why she didn’t receive the full-time hosting gig, including specials and the daily shows. But Bialik’s schedule for her own show, ‘Call Me Kat,’ didn’t allow for that much film time. We know she’s already filled in for Richards after he stepped down, filming three weeks’ worth of episodes as a guest host. But could that mean Sony would also consider working around her schedule to make her the permanent host?

Fans have also put Ken Jennings forward again. Jennings is renowned in the “Jeopardy!” world for having the most consecutive wins (74) and highest total earnings (over $2.5 million). He’s a familiar presence on the game show stage and understands Trebek’s legacy better than almost anyone. But past tweets have also resurfaced that don’t paint him in the best light. Could that impact his potential for host, like it impacted Richards?

We’ll have to wait and see, Outsiders.