‘Jeopardy’: Ken Jennings Responds to Being Called a ‘Natural Successor’ to Legendary Host Alex Trebek
It’s practically impossible to imagine anyone besides Alex Trebek hosting Jeopardy! after he spent close to four decades doing it. Unfortunately, the difficult task of finding his replacement is becoming even more urgent now in the wake of the 78-year-old game show host’s cancer diagnosis.
Trebek has already beat the odds after undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatments and hosting Jeopardy! the whole time. The host revealed that his doctor expressed hope he’d be here to celebrate a second milestone next year, too.
But Trebek has had some dark days over the past year and it’s not unthinkable to consider he might retire and rest. Fans wonder if the most popular contestant of all time, Ken Jennings, might replace him. Here’s what the computer programmer had to say about that.
Ken Jennings had the longest-lasting ‘Jeopardy!’ winning streak in history
Jeopardy! has always been a popular show. But ratings skyrocketed in 2004 when Jennings began his seemingly unstoppable winning streak and captivated American audiences from coast to coast.
The previous year, contestants could only win a maximum of five consecutive games. But luckily for Jennings, this Jeopardy! rule was abolished before his appearance, which allowed him to win a record 74 games in a row before losing on the 75th. Over that time, trivia whiz Jennings received tons of media attention plus amassed $2.5 million in winnings.
Most recently, the 46-year-old Washington resident proved he’s still a champ by winning the Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time tournament against fellow top contestants James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter.
Some fans believe Ken Jennings should be the next ‘Jeopardy!’ host
Trebek will leave behind some extraordinarily large shoes to fill once he retires from hosting. But fans have thrown their support behind Jennings. During an interview with Vulture, the former contestant addressed the idea that he might be a “natural successor” for Trebek.
“It’s very flattering because I’m such a huge fan of the show,” Jennings said. “To even think about that would require imagining a version of Jeopardy! without Alex, and I’m not emotionally prepared to do that at any point.”
What Alex Trebek has said about his future replacement
The fans are on board, but what about the host himself? Though he has no immediate plans to retire, Trebek did mention that the next Jeopardy! host should probably be a woman (he suggested Betty White).
“It’s probably going to be a woman and she’ll have to be bright. She’ll have to have a good sense of humor,” the host told Oprah Magazine. Rumor has it that Ann Curry and Gayle King are on the shortlist of likely options for female hosts. But those claims are unconfirmed so far.
And Trebek apparently said that decision isn’t up to him anyway. “It’s not a decision that would be up to me and I would not make myself available to presenting an opinion,” he said, according to Fatherly. “I would leave it up to the people in charge.”
Whether it’s Ken Jennings, Ann Curry, or someone else entirely, they have their work cut out for them keeping the Jeopardy! legacy alive.