Double jeopardy

How the search for a successor caused a scandal


Lisa Marcolino / Talon

For the past year, Jeopardy has cycled through a roster of guest hosts, searching for a replacement for the irreplaceable Alex Trebek. Last month, it seemed that Jeopardy had found its new host: the show’s executive producer Mike Richards. Then, nine days later, Richards stepped down as host and executive producer after his past offensive comments resurfaced

As Jeopardy’s self-proclaimed number one fan and someone who has quite literally not missed a single episode for the past few years, I felt it imperative that I offer my expert opinion on who should be the next host, as the show resumes its hunt. 

Tied for last on my ranking would be Dr. Oz and Mike Richards. I will admit that a couple months ago, Mike Richards was definitely ranked higher up on my list. But in light of his recent comments, I don’t think he has the moral compass necessary to continue Trebek’s legacy. Just like many other Jeopardy fans, I boycotted Dr. Oz’s stint as host due to his controversial comments on mask policies and general COVID-19 misinformation. 

The next group: Journalists. Ranked 9th through 14th are George Stephanopoulos, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Katie Couric, Robin Roberts, Savannah Guthrie, and Bill Whitaker, respectively. I thought they all did great work, except for their pacing. For contestants, it’s really important that the host reads the clues and calls on contestants quickly, else it leaves clues (and lots of money) on the board at the end of the round. Just like how sports teams look for coaches who will hustle as the clock nears the end of regulation, the same is necessary for Jeopardy hosts.

In the 8th position in my ranking would be Aaron Rodgers. I have nothing against Aaron Rodgers as an athlete but I was pretty disappointed in his monotonous performance. He’ll really need a hail mary to secure this position, but I respect the hustle and preparation he put into the job. 

Here’s my controversial take on my 7th ranking host: LeVar Burton. Like much of social media, I thought LeVar would be the perfect host because of his work on “Reading Rainbow.” However, he started off rough, with multiple inconsistencies in identifying which contestant buzzed in, verifying clue answers, and his pace was leisurely. While his terrific people skills shine through, I had a hard time envisioning him as the daily host.

Wrapping up the list, we have 6th to 2nd place being occupied by Anderson Cooper, Mayim Bialik, David Faber, Joe Buck, and Ken Jennings, respectively. Cooper was definitely more charismatic when compared to his fellow journalist guest hosts, but there was still the element of pacing missing. Mayim Bialik is next on the list, mainly for earning my admiration as a woman in stem, but also for her well-paced questioning. However, I still missed an aspect of charisma that came so naturally to Trebek. David Faber and Joe Buck had similar pros and cons, but I definitely felt the “tv-host” aspect come very naturally to them. 

Ideally, the best host for the show would be a tried and true fan, such as myself; frankly, I’m a little offended that they have yet to ask. But, alas, if it can’t be yours truly, I believe that former contestant Buzzy Cohen would be the perfect candidate for Jeopardy host. As a frequent tournament participant, Cohen possesses the necessary technical and personal skills to excel in this position. Cohen also never suffered from the precipitous learning curve faced by other hosts, cementing his natural abilities to assume the position. Ken Jennings is also an excellent backup option to have, for much of the same reasons that the benefits of being a former contestant provide.

For the time being, Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings will share guest host duties until Jeopardy reaches a final decision or establishes a new slate of hosts. While the hosting situation has faced significant scandal, the show has gained popularity in the past month due to contestant, Matt Amodio. Amodio had a 38 day winning streak, and earned more than 1.5 million dollars, making him the second-longest winning streak in the show’s history, and the second winningest contestant in terms of earnings.

At the end of the day, while Alex Trebek was the heart of Jeopardy, at its core, the show has continued to center around the ability of the average individual to demonstrate the power of knowledge, as trivial as it may be. 

  1. Buzzy Cohen
  2. Ken Jennings
  3. Joe Buck
  4. David Faber
  5. Mayim Bialik
  6. Anderson Cooper
  7. LeVar Burton
  8. Aaron Rodgers
  9. George Stephanopoulos
  10. Dr. Sanjay Gupta
  11. Katie Couric
  12. Robin Roberts
  13. Savannah Guthrie
  14. Bill Whitaker
  15. Mike Richards
  16. Dr. Oz