Ranking All of the Contenders in the Running to Become Jeopardy!'s New Host

Season 37 will see 16 guest hosts stand at Jeopardy!'s iconic lectern. But who is really in the running to replace Alex Trebek?

By Tierney Bricker Jul 04, 2021 3:00 PMTags
Watch: Fans Love Mayim Bialik's Stint as "Jeopardy!" Host

We'll take the most coveted job in TV for $800.

Since Alex Trebek's passing in November 2020, Jeopardy! has welcomed a rotating and varied lineup of guest hosts to fill in at his iconic lectern. Jeopardy! legends, a sports superstar, respected journalists and a Big Bang Theory lead have all had their opportunity to host the long running game show, with fans continuing to speculate over who will land the permanent position. 

And showrunners are definitely taking their time with this decision, a source telling E! News that producers are hopeful that their pick will be at the helm of Jeopardy! for many years to come. 

But which contenders are actually in serious consideration for the gig and who is already out of the running? We've got the inside intel on the ongoing search, including which of the upcoming guests they really are keeping an eye on before season 37 comes to a close later this summer. 

Alex Trebek: A Life in Pictures

Here's our ranking of all of the contenders to become Jeopardy!'s permanent host:

Ken Jennings

Jennings, who won 74 Jeopardy! consecutive games in 2004 and received the title of the show's "Greatest of All Time" in 2020, was for a long time a frontrunner to become the permanent host of Jeopardy! following Alex Trebek's death. 

Of all the guest hosts, Jennings had the longest stint at the lectern, with his six-week stay delivering the highest number of viewers--averaging a 6.1 rating—and making Jeopardy! the top-syndicated show. The GOAT, indeed. 

Aaron Rodgers

The NFL superstar was looking to go from MVP to MVH.

Rodgers, 37, took his time serving as the longrunning game show's host very seriously when he stepped behind the lectern in early April 2021. "Other than the Super Bowl," he said in the teaser clip when his appearance was announced, "this is the honor of a lifetime."

A source told E! News, "He came in wanting to prove himself and he did. He has made his intentions known, he wants this job. Aaron's public campaign to be the next Jeopardy! host has only won him increased support amongst the top brass."

Plus, the Green Bay Packers quarterback's stint generated countless headlines, endless buzz and good ratings. The amount of attention he could bring to the show if he became the permanent host is "very exciting" for producers, said the source.

Buzzy Cohen

Sure, Jennings seemed like the most likely former champ to win the Jeopardy!, but a source once advised, "Don't count Buzzy out."

The 36-year-old (a.k.a. Mr. Personality, a nickname given to him by Trebek) was brought in to host the Tournament of Champions, doing "an incredible job with the very difficult task," said the source. And the former champ is beloved by the passionate fanbase since his nine-game winning streak in 2016.

Mike Richards

Richards, who was ultimately chosen in August 2021 to host the daily syndicated show, joined the Jeopardy! family in 2020 when he succeeded the retiring Harry Friedman as executive producer of the series along with helming Wheel of Fortune.

The producer also has TV hosting experience and was a candidate in the search to replace Bob Barker on The Price Is Right before Drew Carey landed the gig. 

Mayim Bialik

Bialik, who was chosen to host Jeopardy! spinoffs after Alex Trebek's death, was in the running to host the daily syndicated show. She made quite the, uh, big bang when she guest-hosted.

She also experienced a significant uptake in viewers between her first and second weeks, with ratings jumping up four percent. Plus, producers "noticed" the positive feedback Bialik received on social media, with a show insider telling E! News at the time, "Everyone behind the scenes is thrilled that the audience is now seeing onscreen the magic seen during production."

For Bialik, who is a neuroscientist, the warm response felt "like a dream," she told E! News a in statement. "To be noticed and appreciated when I'm really just trying to honor Alex is so heartwarming."

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

He is a neurosurgeon and CNN host. He guest hosted Jeopardy! in June 2021.

Robin Roberts

Given that the 60-year-old is the anchor for Good Morning America, it seemed highly unlikely that Roberts would add hosting Jeopardy! full-time to her plate, which includes her new Disney+ series Turning the Tables.

George Stephanopoulos

Like his GMA co-anchor, Stephanapolous, 60, was not expected to take up a permanent resident at the lectern. 

Savannah Guthrie

While a source described the Today show host as "bright, effervescent and incredibly well prepared," the journalist also has a full line-up of gigs keeping her busy.

Katie Couric

Naturally, the Today alum was a "great host," noted the source, and brought in solid ratings, but the veteran journalist had no interest in permanently replacing Trebek.

"It was a really fun thing to do," Couric told the Poytner Institute in March. "[But] I love what I'm doing now. I have tremendous flexibility."

Of her time at the lectern, she added, "It was a lot of fun, but it was a very tough job."

Anderson Cooper

It seems the Jeopardy! team was enamored with the CNN host, with the insider gushing that the 54-year-old brought "wit and charm to the role" and was "a lovely guy."

But a long-distance working arraignment would have had to be sorted out. Jeopardy! films in Los Angeles while Cooper and his 14-month-old son, Wyatt Morgan, are based in New York City for his various work commitments, including Anderson Cooper 360 and 60 Minutes.

Plus, after his two-week stint (April 19 through 30), Cooper attracted the lowest ratings of any guest host, delivering a 5.1 rating in his first week and a 4.8 in his final outing.

Dr. Oz

The 61-year-old's two-week stint attracted low ratings, poor social media feedback and a petition signed by hundreds of former Jeopardy! contestants who were opposed to the TV personality standing at Trebek's iconic lectern.

Bill Whitaker

While he was "wonderful" during his time on the show in May, said the insider, it seemed unlikely that the 60 Minutes correspondent would be picked as Trebek's replacement. 

Plus, Whitaker, 69, told The Washington Post he didn't have an interest in hosting Jeopardy! full-time, saying, "I love my day job, so this was just a change of pace."

LeVar Burton

In the months following Trebek's death, fans championed for Burton, who hosted Reading Rainbow for 23 years, to be named the permanent new host, with a Change.org petition even being created. And in the final weeks of Jeopardy!'s summer run, they are finally getting their wish. 

The Star Trek: The Next Generation star filled in the last week of July. Before his hosting stint, Burton shared on Twitter, "THANK YOU... to all y'all for your passionate support! I am overjoyed, excited, and eager to be guest-hosting Jeopardy!, and will do my utmost best to live up to your faith you in me. YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE! Go ahead and take my word for it, this time."

Joe Buck

Fox Sports' play-by-play commentator hosted the final week of Jeopardy!'s run in summer 2021, but the response on social media to the announcement was less than warm.

David Faber

One of season 37's final guests, the co-host of CNBC's morning show Squawk on the Street was unlikely to be tapped for the permanent job, per a Jeopardy!. source. In other words, what is an underdog, Alex?

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