‘Jeopardy!‘: Is Ken Jennings Now Favorite to Host Following Mike Richards’ Exit?

by Matthew Wilson

For many, Ken Jennings would make the perfect “Jeopardy!” host. In fact, many were shocked a few weeks ago when he didn’t get the position. Instead, Sony opted to move executive producer Mike Richards into the spotlight. But with that seemingly backfiring just nine days later (Richards is out), who will be the show’s permanent host?

Well, Jennings could still be the favorite for the position. Many in Hollywood and Twitter are pushing for LeVar Burton to get the job. After all, a petition gained a large following and got him on the show to guest host to begin with. But many believe Burton was robbed, having to host against both the Tokyo Olympics and also the NBA draft.

Maybe Burton will get another shot to prove himself. But right now, Jennings holds the highest ratings as guest host during his six-week start after Trebek passed. In fact, Matthew Belloni of the What I’m Hearing newsletter believes Jennings could be a shoo-in. He said “Jeopardy!” insiders believe “it’s now Jennings’ job to lose.”

“[Jenning’s] been a good soldier for the show this week, giving interviews lamenting the ‘backstage drama’ but not overtly criticizing anyone,” Belloni said. “Plus, he already consults for the show, and producers were planning to incorporate more of him into the game.”

As Belloni mentioned, Jennings already has strong ties to the show in its current iteration. What’s more, is that he has a strong passion for “Jeopardy!” as a game. Jennings shouldered stepping up into the hosting spot after Trebek passed away. As the current holder of the Greatest of All Time and with 70-plus consecutive wins under his belt, it makes a certain amount of sense that “Jeopardy!” next host would be one of its best champions.

Ken Jennings Was Reportedly Alex Trebek’s Favorite

Additionally, according to the New York Times, many believed Alex Trebek preferred Ken Jennings to be his successor. The two became close over the years following Jennings’ initial wins. Jennings returned to “Jeopardy!” as a consultant and appeared in what would be Trebek’s final season.

Jennings reportedly received a gift of Alex’s cufflinks from his widow and a very sweet note when he took over as guest host as well. But Jennings reportedly had a less than thrilling relationship with executive producer Mike Richards, especially recently.

Richards reportedly kicked both Jennings and Buzzy Cohen out of the “Jeopardy!” stage during his first and only day of taping. He made staff escort the two out of the set to an isolated green room to watch the taping. Jennings says he wished all of the drama wouldn’t sully the game. “It’s one of the last pure things in a troubled age. And I hate that something pure like that has to be sullied by backstage drama.”