Not since Johnny Carson left The Tonight Show has there been this much fanfare over a hosting gig. Alex Trebek left behind impossibly large shoes to fill, and the impossible task of naming his successor has turned into a months-long operation. The producers of Jeopardy! have decided to have a slew of guest hosts to see who is up for the job. They are de facto auditions for as coveted a role as you’re likely to find on television.
Hosting Jeopardy! provides unique challenges for hosts. They must be affable, intellectual, and have an open schedule. Most of the guest hosts, like Anderson Cooper or Savannah Guthrie, have commitments that make the job extremely unlikely. Bearing that in mind, here are the top contenders to become the next host of Jeopardy!.
For a while, it looked like Ken Jennings was really the only choice to host Jeopardy!. He’s already synonymous with the program and has hosting experience. Tellingly, Jennings was selected as the very first guest host. This signifies that he’s a safe choice that the producers trust.
Contrary to tabloids, however, it’s hardly a done deal. Gossip Cop has debunked loads of stories about Jennings being Trebek’s chosen successor or getting ruled out altogether. At this point, he’s still a major front-runner to win the role.
Rodgers raised many eyebrows when he was named as a guest host, but the reigning NFL MVP did a stellar job. He took the job seriously and received rave reviews. Jeopardy! was even used as a way to promote Rodgers’ upcoming golf match with Tom Brady.
Obviously, Brady isn’t on the selection committee, but he does say “Aaron was amazing.” Rodgers would normally be ruled out because of the grueling NFL schedule, but he’s currently in a standoff with the powers that be in Green Bay. At this point, hosting Jeopardy! is as likely a career move for Rodgers as remaining the quarterback of the Packers.
Buzzy Cohen remains unknown to the casual viewer, but he’s beloved by fans of the show. Cohen is a former champion in his own right who had delightful rapport with Trebek, who christened him “Mr. Personality.’. Like Jennings, the timing of his hosting gig is very telling. Cohen was selected to host the Tournament of Champions, an especially difficult set of shows. At just 36-years-old, Cohen would bring an air of youth to the television institution.
Remember the importance of intellect in this position? Mayim Bialik is almost overqualified for Jeopardy!. She has decades of experience in television dating all the way back to Webster in 1988. She also holds a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA. Sources at the show told E! News that “As far as showrunners are concerned, her guest-hosting run was flawless.”
The only hitch in her hosting campaign would be her schedule. While Big Bang Theory may have ended in 2018, Bialik is still starring in Fox’s Call Me Kat, which was recently renewed for a second season. She’ll also be making her directorial debut with As Sick as They Made Us starring Dustin Hoffman. It’s always possible that she would change her plans for the chance to host Jeopardy!, but she may just be too busy to be a full-time host.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
The current host of Jeopardy! has received some decent marks as a host. Above all, Gupta has been professional and is a middle-of-the-road candidate for the position. Like Bialik, Gupta would have to drop several other commitments at CNN to take up the mantle of host full time. Gupta’s background in television and medicine, as well as his likable nature, mean he’s still a possibility.
You may not be familiar with Richards’ name, but he’s been a fixture in the game show industry for years. Richards was the producer of Let’s Make a Deal and The Price Is Right before becoming the producer of both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. He was even a front-runner to succeed Bob Barker as host of the Price Is Right before Drew Carey nabbed it up.
Richards knows game shows inside and out, so it’s no wonder that he made for a pretty compelling host. If Jeopardy! wanted to keep the selection in-house, then Richards could easily be chosen. Ultimately, Richards will likely have a big say in who gets the job.
Currently standing as the odds-on favorite to become the host of Jeopardy!, LeVar Burton’s fan-driven campaign has been heartwarming to watch. Burton will host the show from July 26-30, but he’s made it known that he would love to host far beyond that.
The Roots star told EW “I think my whole career is an advertisement for being the host of Jeopardy.” He’s the only man on this list actively campaigning. If it were up to the fans, Burton would be the new host of Jeopardy!.