Ken Jennings, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often referred to as “the Mormon Church”), is one of the show’s most notorious contestants. He first became famous in 2004 as a contestant on the show with his record-breaking streak of 74 games. He later went on to become the highest earning American game show contestant of all time, earning $2.52 million.
With the 8 November 2020 passing of long-time Jeopardy! game show host, Alex Trebek, the search has begun to find a new host and Ken Jennings is listed as a top favorite to fill the bill. While the final decision is being made as to who will be the show’s next host, the show will continue to air through the remainder of 2020 with episodes that were prerecorded before Trebek’s passing.
Although Jennings may be popular among fans of the game show, he is up against some stiff competition for the spot as host. Other considerations for host include previous Jeopardy! champions, renowned hosts of other programs, and various celebrities like LeVar Burton, Pat Sajak, Ryan Seacrest, Katie Couric, Neil Patric Harris, and Trevor Noah. Even ABC News journalist George Stephanopoulos is presumably vying for the job.
As a side note, In a 2018 interview, Alex Trebek said he thought either LA Kings announcer Alex Faust or CNN legal analyst Laura Coates would make worthy hosts.
Jennings is beloved in the Jeopardy! universe. With that in mind, the producers of the show want to maintain the same fan-host bond that existed when Trebek was the host. So, even with the competition that he faces, Jennings remains a top choice to be the new host.
Whether or not Jennings becomes the new permanent host of the popular game show is still undetermined. However, he is the first interim guest host for the show, which resumed production on 30 November 2020. New episodes hosted by Jennings will air in January 2021, beginning the week of 11 January. The show said it will air 10 of Trebek’s best episodes during the weeks of 21 December and 28 December 2020, and his final week of episodes starting 4 January 2021.
Mike Richards, executive producer of Jeopardy! said in a statement, “We will honor Alex’s legacy by continuing to produce the game he loved with smart contestants and challenging clues. By bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, our goal is to create a sense of community and continuity for our viewers.”
In a post on Twitter, Jennings said, “There will only ever be one Alex Trebek, but I’m honored to be helping Jeopardy! out with this in January.”