Ken Jennings says Jeopardy didn't tell him his return episode would air on anniversary of Alex Trebek's death
Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings returned to host the long-running game show on Monday, which happened to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the death of beloved Jeopardy host Alex Trebek. According to Jennings, the producers of the show shielded him from this fact.
"Apparently, everyone was aware that we were going to air [my first episode] on the anniversary and nobody told me," Jennings told USA Today in a recent interview. "They didn't want to put that in my head. So, I was not told until after that it was the Nov. 8 show."
Show representatives didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
Trebek died on Nov. 8, 2020 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. The road to finding his permanent replacement on the game show has been challenging.
Jennings was the first in a long line of guest hosts to man the Jeopardy podium before producer Mike Richards had been tapped to replace Trebek. Richards ultimately stepped down from the position after a backlash ensued over insensitive remarks Richards had previously made on a podcast, as well as two discrimination lawsuits pertaining to Richards' time on The Price Is Right.
Jennings and Mayim Bialik, the latter having been hired to host the Jeopardy primetime specials and spin-offs, were then announced to share hosting duties moving forward for the remainder of the year.
Jennings told USA Today he would like to think of returning to host the show as "getting back on a bike." However, "it's a very tricky job," he continued. "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."
The temporary host is the highest-earning American game show contestant of all time and holds the Jeopardy record for the longest winning streak with 74 consecutive wins — though many rising Jeopardy champs have chased after his record. Jennings' records have made him a fan-favorite mainstay of the Jeopardy family.
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