Ken Jennings Is Not Alex Trebek’s Successor, ‘Jeopardy!’ Producer Puts Rumor to Rest
The announcement that Jeopardy! GOAT Ken Jennings had been hired by the classic game show to serve in the new role of consulting producer caused excitement and, as if Alex Trebek weren’t enough, a reason to watch the new season.
It’s also caused abundant speculation as to whether Jennings is being groomed to replace Alex Trebek when the show’s long-time host retires.
Here’s what Jeopardy!‘s new executive producer had to say about the rumor that won’t go away.
Alex Trebek said this about retiring
In his 2020 book, The Answer Is…, Alex Trebek touched on the often-asked-about topic of his retirement. True to form, the father of three handled it with humor.
“I do find that the older you get,” he wrote, “the more difficult it is to maintain your concentration. You can have those slip-ups in casual conversation with friends. But you can’t get away with that as the host of Jeopardy!“
“Whenever it gets to that point, I’ll walk away. You won’t see Johnny wheeling me out onto the stage. ‘Here, Alex, let me wipe that drool off your chin. Okay, now go ahead and start the game.'”
The game show legend feels, no matter who hosts Jeopardy!, it will continue to be a staple on American television.
“Jeopardy! will be just fine. It doesn’t matter who’s the host. It’s a quality program. I think Jeopardy! can go on forever.”
Here’s what Ken Jennings had to say about replacing Alex Trebek
But the name most bets are on is Ken Jennings’. As someone who was practically on the payroll in 2004, reporting to the Sony Studios for 75 games, Jennings knows Jeopardy! and his way to the corporate caf. He was raised on the program. He’s quick on his feet, bright, and isn’t awkward in front of a camera. He’d be great, except so far, he doesn’t seem (publicly) interested in the job.
“I just saw Alex pretty recently when we were promoting the recent Jeopardy! tournament,” Jennings told Fox News in April 2020, “and he was really hanging in there well. Jeopardy! has production shut down for the pandemic and he is still itching to get back to work.”
“That’s a guy who loves his job,” he continued, “and I think that’s what’s keeping him healthy and alive at this point. I hope he hosts Jeopardy! forever.”
The executive producer of ‘Jeopardy!’ says ‘We’re not shopping’
In a conversation with The Ringer, new Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards made it abundantly clear: Alex Trebek is the host of the show. The show is not looking to replace him. If there could have been an audio component to his statement, a hand slamming on a table would have been heard.
Richards’ point is a considerate and realistic one: talking about who’ll replace Alex Trebek isn’t happening until Trebek himself starts the dialogue.
“If you sat in my morning meetings with Alex as he was going through the shows and the clues and then you watched him host the show — he’s the host of the show,” Richards said. “We’re not shopping. He’s our guy, and he’s our guy till he tells us he’s not our guy, and then we can have a different conversation. I just don’t think it’s appropriate to have that conversation until Alex comes to me and says, ‘OK. This is my plan.’”
If you’re hearing a collective sigh of relief, Richards’ comments are reassuring at a time when Jeopardy! fans are feeling a bit concerned about losing Trebek, to his illness or simply to retirement.
On with Season 37!