Ken Jennings still has jokes, even when it comes to the very serious topic of Jeopardy! host.
The Jeopardy! super champion tweeted about the news that Mike Richards will be the permanent host of the show. Meanwhile, Mayim Bialik will host specials, including the annual college tournament.
Jennings wrote: “In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have insisted to Jeopardy! that I host every episode while eating a loud, juicy apple.” Eight minutes after he posted the tweet, Jennings added: “BUT I’m relieved that the guest-host carousel ride is over and excited to start work on the new season. Still my favorite show.”
Jeopardy! used 16 guest hosts as producers searched for a suitable replacement for Alex Trebek. The long-time host died last November after a near two-year fight with pancreatic cancer. Jeopardy! knew that no one could be the same as the beloved Trebek. But someone still needed to be comfortable behind the dais and intelligent enough to have a command of the questions and answers.
Jennings was the first guest host. He made so much sense, considering he won 74 straight games back in 2004. In all, he’s earned more than $4.5 million in Jeopardy! prize money. His winning run on the show came a year after Jeopardy! tweaked the rules to allow victorious contestants to stay longer than five episodes.
Jennings Guest Hosted Jeopardy! for Six Weeks with Show’s Highest Ratings
Jennings guest-hosted for six weeks, starting Jan. 11. And he enjoyed the highest ratings. His final week, which started Feb. 15, drew 10.4 million viewers. Mike Richards took over after Jennings. His two weeks averaged 9.9 and 9.7 million viewers. The ratings dropped after the first two hosts. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and journalist Katie Couric were the only two other Jeopardy! guest hosts to pull more than 9 million.
Richards also will keep his job as the show’s executive producer. He told USA Today back in February that the guest-hosting gigs weren’t going to be used as a contest for a permanent host.
“This is people who love this game, and their respect for Alex is off the charts,” Richards said. “That’s how we went about it: Who would feel a connection? Who has the unique talents? Because it’s so hard to host the show, as I can tell you having hosted five series myself. Each person brings their own intense love for the game.”
Jennings definitely is someone who loves Jeopardy! It’s his identity. In 2020, he even won the Greatest of All Time tournament.
He’s also teaching kids and their parents how to best learn the secrets of trivia. So he’s helping to create future champions.
James Holzhauer, another well-known Jeopardy! super champion, had some fun with Jennings’ tweets. He replied with a screen shot of a Final Jeopardy! answer Jennings wrote from a past episode. But Holzhauer’s photo tweaked Jennings answer so that it said:
“I for one welcome our new Jeopardy! overlords.”
All the best super champions have jokes.