‘Jeopardy!’: Katie Couric Reveals What She Came to Respect About Contestants After Guest Hosting Gig

by Emily Morgan

After Katie Couric’s stint as guest-host on “Jeopardy!” the veteran journalist is taking a moment to reflect on her time on the show.  The 64-year-old fulfilled her hosting duties after the long-running “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek passed away in November. In addition, she made “Jeopardy!” history when she became the first woman to host the show. Furthermore, she helped bring in $230,000 for cancer research during her time on the show. 

Since being on the show, Couric has confessed to having new-found respect for the game and its contestants. 

“It’s pretty exhausting to do five of those in one day — just to make sure you’re pronouncing everything correctly,” she said. “They give you these complicated Latin terms. My daughters would’ve really crushed it, but I don’t really speak Latin … I’ve always marveled at the contestants. But this really made me appreciate and respect the contestants more than I already did.”

Couric, who recently turned in her final manuscript for her memoir, Unexpected, stepped down as longtime “Today” co-host in 2006 but has kept herself busy. In the years following, she’s launched her own media company and produces a newsletter and podcast.

Katie Couric on Taking on ‘Jeopardy!’ Hosting Duties Full-Time

As for whether or not she’d like to pursue the “Jeopardy!” hosting gig full-time, Couric says it’s a job she’ll leave to someone else. When asked about taking on the role in an interview with Poynter, Couric revealed she didn’t intend to host the job on a long-term basis. 

“I don’t think so,” Couric said. “It was a really fun thing to do. I love what I’m doing now. I have tremendous flexibility.” Even though Couric is a seasoned professional in entertainment, Couric says that “Jeopardy!” offered many challenges. 

“I was quite nervous when I walked onto the Sony lot and very nervous when I walked into the studio,” she said. “But right away they put me at ease. Mike Richards, the executive producer, said, ‘We are not going to let you look bad.’ And I instantly relaxed and I knew that they had my back.”

She was able to rehearse for one day. She was handed the show clues “like they were delivering the nuclear code,” she said. “I basically had to promise my life savings if I divulged any of the clues to anyone. They were really serious about it.”

By the end of her run, Couric said that she got much more comfortable on stage. Even going as so far as to add her own touches to her hosting style. “I tried to make it my own, as Paula Abdul would say, but also respect the institution because ‘Jeopardy!’ is not really a game show,” said Couric. “It doesn’t feel right to call it a game show. It is an American institution.”