Now a consulting producer on “Jeopardy!,” Ken Jennings was the first host to take over the show following the death of Alex Trebek. Mike Richards, an executive producer and controversial selectee for the permanent hosting job, stepped into the role after Jennings. But little did the public know then, Richards was apparently insistent that he replace the most winningest contestant of all time. It’s all part of what Jennings sees as a disappointing process for determining who the next host(s) of “Jeopardy!” would be.
From the ratings to the overall sentiments of fans everywhere, Ken Jennings was a favorite to replace Alex Trebek. In fact, it was Trebek who personally talked to Jennings about stepping in for him.
According to an investigative article from The Ringer, the two were close. Not only did the iconic game show host pass down a pair of cufflinks to his former contestant, but Trebek’s wife also wrote a heartfelt note to Jennings ahead of his debut as guest host.
Yet the show went a different direction when Mike Richards was announced as permanent host. And Jennings, for one, didn’t approve of the decision-making process.
“Obviously I’m disappointed with how this process played out, but I’d rather look ahead. I plan to be with the show as long as they’ll have me, no matter who’s hosting,” Jennings told The Ringer.
New Permanent ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Was Never Supposed To Guest Host In The First Place
From January 4th to February 19th, GOAT Ken Jennings ran “Jeopardy!” in a way that’d make Trebek proud. Fans loved him, and contestants appreciated him. However, after a scheduling conflict that messed with the taping schedule, Richards jumped at the opportunity. According to The Ringer, he subbed himself in on short notice.
But by his own admission, he was never even supposed to do the job.
“As for me hosting, I was never meant to be a part of that process — I was just meant to manage — but COVID had other plans,” Richards told Next TV in May. And even after he stepped in, his proximity to the selection process sits well with few, considering where he is now—in the process of taping for “Jeopardy!” Season 38.
“Sony will ask me how people are in the studio and how their days on set went so I will be part of that conversation but there’s a bigger group of stakeholders who will weigh in. My job is really to make everyone really good at this,” Richards continued in the interview. “The shoot days are brutal because teaching someone the show is intense.”
Most would call that a conflict of interest. Though, it’s worth mentioning that the great majority of guest hosts had only good things to say about the help Richards provided them during their runs. Regardless, his position as the permanent “Jeopardy!” host will prove troublesome for many over the coming weeks, months, and years.