‘Jeopardy!’: Ken Jennings Is ‘Just Terrified’ of Replacing Alex Trebek as Host

by Joe Rutland

Ken Jennings of Jeopardy! fame just really is not ready to replace the late Alex Trebek as host of the fabled game show.

Jennings talked about the situation in an article for the New York Post.

The 47-year-old talked to USA Today as Jennings will host Jeopardy! on the one-year anniversary of Trebek’s death from pancreatic cancer.

Jennings talks about feeling “just terrified” of hosting and the state of the show itself following a summer of scandals, including the removal of ex-producer and one-time host Mike Richards.

‘Jeopardy!’ Host, Champ Admits He Wasn’t Told About Show Airing on Anniversary

“Apparently, everyone was aware that we were going to air [this episode] on the anniversary and nobody told me,” the Jeopardy! host and champ told USA Today.

“They didn’t want to put that in my head. So I was not told until after [filming the episode] that it was the Nov. 8 show,” said Jennings, adding that he even wore a pair of Trebek’s own cuff links — gifted to Jennings by his widow, Jean Currivan-Trebek.

After all, getting back behind the podium to tape in September already was not an easy task for Jennings, who said he “felt rusty.”

“It’s a very tricky job. The mechanics of hosting Jeopardy! are daunting. There’s a lot going on at once, and Alex made it all look so easy. But I can tell you firsthand, it’s not easy,” Jennings said, mentioning he previously was “just terrified” while taping his shows that aired last February.

Jennings Admits During Each Record He Was Part Of, Trebek Ws On His Mind

“I knew that [those winter shows were] going to be a very difficult task … much less the idea that you’re trying to step into the shoes of Alex Trebek, which is impossible,” he said. “This time, we’re kind of a year removed or more from all that, so I’ve had every possible emotion now related to Jeopardy!

Many of those feelings were sentimental toward the longtime legendary host, who was on Jennings’ mind during each recording.

“You can’t stand on that stage and say those things without thinking about him,” he said. “Every time I’m up there, I’m doing Alex. Not just because he perfected it, but because that’s the only way I’ve ever seen it done.”

Still, Jennings was quick to admit times have changed in the show’s post-Trebek era.

He expressed concerns for the Jeopardy! state of the union in the wake of “embarrassing” sexist and otherwise inappropriate comments from Richards, an executive producer who briefly took over hosting duties this year.

“Right now, all I’m thinking about is how the show is doing, as a workplace, as a TV institution … It means a lot to people in a way that almost no other TV show does,” Jennings said.