It’s almost impossible to imagine Jeopardy going on without Alex Trebek. While he wasn’t always the host, with Art Fleming hosting the initial on-again-off-again run of the show from 1964 from 1979, Trebek’s tenure on Jeopardy has melded its way into the very fibre of American life. The proposition that someone else host the show in the wake of his unfortunate passing seems nearly blasphemous to consider. However, come the second week of January Ken Jennings will be taking over as the first of a series of what the network is saying will be “familiar faces” who will serve as guest hosts for the next few weeks until they name an official successor. ABC has been promoting a new trivia game show The Chase which will star a rotating cast of Jennings and fellow Jeopardy titans James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter. You’d have to imagine that the other two will be among the other guests hosts and that all three are potential successors, though there are several other characters in the Jeopardy extended universe that would arguably do a better job. There was also an interesting odds sheet making the rounds on twitter that had every potential celeb from Jennings to Joe Rogan listed. It featured a couple of celebs you could get good odds on that’d actually be compelling but also had enough ridiculous candidates where I have a hard time believing the list was actually real. That being said, everyone is worth considering in the most important question that will be answered in 2021: Who is gonna take over Jeopardy? Below is a list of every potential contestant listed on the odds sheet and a few Jeopardy favorites who I think make interesting propositions. I am looking for a few key criteria in my ideal successor: Alex’s stately academic demeanor, a believable passion for trivia, and a hope that they could take over the show for not just years but decades to come.
Ken Jennings (+100) – The odds on favorite by a mile, for better or worse. Some seem to love him and see him as the only real option, some seem so repulsed at the idea that they’d rather see the show get cancelled than have Jennings take over, an opinion shared by our favorite musician and coffee roaster John Cozz. However you feel about him it’s seemed like ABC has been grooming Jennings to take over since they brought him on as a producer on the new season. In his new role Jennings has already started popping on the board for a category of questions once or twice a week. While Jennings seems like a nice enough fella, Alex just has a certain air about him and a timbre to his voice Jennings lacks. Alex never misses with a quip or a comment, I’d have to imagine I’d be doing a bit more eye rolling as Jennings got comfortable. Also, where Alex has a stately old school academic demeanor, Ken has more of a guy who runs pub trivia because he can’t get a team together know-it-all kinda vibe. Not that Ken would do a bad job, I am sure he’d settle into the role comfortably after a year or so, but I don’t think he’d do the best job of all available options.
James Holzhauer (Odds N/A)– While I am interested to see how he does co-hosting The Chase, I just have a hard time imagining ABC would chose the professional gambler turned game show celeb to succeed Trebek. While James was a king on his run, winning over $100k on episodes like it was casual, he always feels quite distant. I just have a hard time seeing him ask random teachers from Tuscalosa about their study abroad trip to Mallorca in 1998. He’s a smart guy but just too much in his own universe to host the show.
Brad Rutter (Odds N/A)– While Brad is probably the most personable of the big three, I again just cannot imagine ABC handing him the reigns over Ken Jennings. While he is the all time Jeopardy earnings leader, Brad just looked like he wasn’t in the same class as Holzhauer and Jennings in the recent Jeopardy Greatest of All Time competition. Not that he’d do a bad job hosting, but Brad doesn’t have nearly the fanbase that either Jennings or Holzhauer does and it’d just feel a little random for him to take the job over either of them.
Buzzy Cohen (Odds N/A)– You could make an argument for a number of ex-Jeopardy contestants who would do a good job outside of the big three, Brooklyn bartender Austin Rogers and MIT alum Julie Collins come to mind, but I couldn’t imagine anyone who has been on the show doing a better job than Buzzy Cohen. The man has personality for days and possesses the kind of regal academic energy that Alex had, unlike Jennings’ nerdy know-it-all vibe. He also is interested in the job, having first asked producers about becoming a potential successor back when he won the 2017 Tournament of Champions, so we know he’s up for the task. I also think an important aspect of being the Jeopardy host that so many take for granted is that Alex Trebek has been a hottie as long as he’s been hosting the show. Every time I have ever watched Jeopardy with a woman over sixty they comment on how “Alex just seems like such a nice man,” and Buzzy has that same bring him home to your grandmother charm. Plus his name is Buzzy! Like the buzzer?? This feels like a match made in heaven. If the next Jeopardy host has to be a former contestant Cohen seems like the obvious choice to me. Unless…
Arthur Chu (Odds N/A)– The only Jeopardy champ who has me blocked on twitter, Chu made headlines with his unconventional play style searching frantically for the daily doubles jumping all over the board in his pursuit back in 2014. He also had maybe the most depressing documentary made about him of all time, Who is Arthur Chu? The documentary is more or less about how the micro-fame he got from Jeopardy coupled with the hot-take economy he participated in on twitter drove him to madness, leading to him getting and losing jobs and his wife. I think it would make for an absolutely absurd redemption arc to see him become the host of Jeopardy. He would without a doubt see himself as God and command the show as such, making snide remarks at anyone who tried to get too coy with him. Probably the worst possible choice and definitely the funniest.
Alex Faust (+1800)– Trebek listed Faust as one of two people he could see taking over Jeopardy in an interview a few years back. While Faust does a hell of a job as the Kings play by play guy I don’t know that he has the demeanor or trivia knowledge to actually helm the show. Sure he’s handsome and has a good voice but he doesn’t look particularly intelligent. He could be brilliant but just the way his brow is always furrowed just makes it look like his brain is constantly processing the information it’s receiving. Can’t have a Jeopardy host who doesn’t look like he knows the answers to the questions he’s asking, even if he had Alex’s seal of approval.
Laura Coates (+1800)– Laura similarly was named by Trebek as someone he could imagine taking over the reins of Jeopardy. She seems smart and charming in the interviews I watched with her and has a good respectable air about her while being able to take a joke here or there. Definitely seems like she’d be a better choice than Faust but I have not watched a minute of any cable news channel in my life so I’ve never seen Coates in action. I think she’d do a respectable job filling Alex’s shoes but it seems ABC wants to go with either a bigger name or someone closer to home. Would be happy with her as host giving she has Trebek’s blessing but I have a hard time seeing it happening.
George Stephanopoulos (+350)– George has been pretty brazenly advocating for the job since Alex passed. He seems like a dumbass who thinks he’s a whole lot smarter than he actually is and I think he assumed that his campaign for the job would go a lot better than it actually has. Would be an awful choice and one that I cannot imagine ABC making, we just don’t need anyone who knew Jeff Epstein personally running Jeopardy.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (+1400)– Obviously a very smart fella, but just way too smug to take over Jeopardy. Seems like he’d try and add fun facts after asking every question. Might make the whole thing science themed. Feel like he’d turn the whole show into a meme blackhole. I could still see ABC giving him one of the trial runs like Jennings is getting but I don’t imagine him taking the job full time.
Pat Sajak (+1600)– While Pat has taken over the reins once before, hosting Jeopardy on April Fools Day 1997, he’s busy enough running things over at Wheel of Fortune. Sajak’s sarcastic enthusiasm for the Wheel contestants while perfect for that show wouldn’t translate over to Jeopardy, he’s better off with Vanna White and his backhanded compliments for Wheel contestants.
Ryan Seacrest (+1800)– Lmao, sign me tf up. Would do a better job than Stephanopolus or Sajak but it’s just not gonna happen. Starting to feel like whoever put this list together just did a big google search of “ABC game and reality show hosts” and threw numbers after them. Like what makes Seacrest’s odds so much better than Nick Cannon’s? Whose in charge of crunching those numbers?
Tom Bergeron (+1800)– We don’t need someone older than Alex taking over the show. Can’t imagine this happening, again seems like he just got on the list because he’s already on ABC’s payroll.
Jimmy Kimmel (+2000)– Yea maybe if Ben Stein comes back too. Just be happy they gave you Millionaire Jimmy don’t press your luck and ruin my life every day from 7:00-7:30.
Katie Couric (+2000)– Again I’ve never watched cable news so I am not familiar with her work but we don’t need someone over 60 taking over this show. Let’s get some young blood in here who can do the show for a few decades, not a few seasons. Plus she said Kimmell would be a good choice on Jalen Rose’s podcast so I don’t think she has the most discerning judgement.
LeVar Burton (+2000)– LaVar Ball is a man who everyone in America doubted only for him to 360 slam dunk in their face. By turning his family into a content generation farm he ended up with two kids who were top three NBA Draft picks and three kids in the league, with a functioning family brand on the side. I’d love to see him bring his wisdom and sense of humor to the Jeopardy stage. LeVar Burton would do okay too I guess.
Mina Kimes (+2200)– Definitely the best value on this board, Mina both has the right energy to host the show and the knowledge base to believably know the answers to all the questions. While she’s become most famous for her football coverage, she was among the first sportswriters to take E-Sports seriously with her massive 2015 profile on League of Legends king Faker. She also started off as a business writer at Fortune, so she’s got a wide base of knowledge to pull from. Plus being a crossword puzzle head is the more dignified version of being a big bar trivia person. It’s still a long shot that ABC would pull her over from ESPN and I don’t know that she’d want to take over such a monumental responsibility like hosting Jeopardy but I think she is one of the strongest applicants that the odds sheet suggested.
Jane Lynch (+2500)
Neil Patrick Harris (+2500)– I guess he’s not busy but I’ve never been a big fan. Same annoying know it all energy as Jennings but with less proof that he actually knows it all. Don’t imagine he’d wanna take this job either.
Trevor Noah (+2800)– Honestly would be the most natural fit of any of the comedy people offered in my opinion. Haven’t loved his run of the Daily Show but could see this taking him away from politics and buttoning him up a bit. I just don’t imagine that this is a job he’d wanna take, could see him getting bored of the role easily.
Wolf Blitzer (+2800)– Again I’ve never watched cable news so I am not familiar with his work but he kinda just looks stupid. Might be a smart guy, I have no idea, but in the pictures of him on Google Images he just looks like every Dad staring off in space in a deli waiting for his order to get called. Also he’s like a hundred years old, don’t need anyone who qualifies for AARP taking over for Trebek.
Drew Carey (+3300)– He’d demand that Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie join the show too leaving only one rotating slot for new contestants. Plus the points would all be made up, would be a complete disaster.
Jon Stewart (+3300)– Would be fun but just random. Like he could host the show for a decade and we’d still be going “Huh Jon Stewart is hosting Jeopardy? How’d that happen?” Could definitely keep up Alex’s tradition of doing questionable accents however so something to consider, but I can’t imagine this happening.
Chris Harrison (+4000)– TF ??? ??? They just let anyone who hosts a competitive show on ABC onto this list?? Lets just say he’s busy… and not the type.
Howie Mandel (+4000)– Would only work if every question was held up by a bikini babe. He needs a lot of time for dramatic tension in his game shows that Jeopardy doesn’t allow for. Hoping he turns back to stand up instead.
Piers Morgan (+4000)– All British people are awful by definition and are looked down on with scorn by the eyes of God so it really means something to say that Piers Morgan may be the most repulsive person to ever come from that evil island. Is likely too busy getting in arguments on twitter about Megan Markle to host Jeopardy, would be an international tragedy if this was to occur.
Steve Harvey (+4000)– Steve Harvey is a legend regardless of what Tyler the Creator has to say. This would be absolutely hilarious but he’s busy going, “Now what in the hell did you just say???” to suburban moms on Family Feud at the moment. Not enough opportunities to make funny faces on Jeopardy, the show would be an underutilization of his talents.
Erin Andrews (+5000)– Honestly I was ready to write Erin off but she might be a better pick than I realized. She held her own hosting Dancing with the Stars and is a delight on any sideline I’ve seen her on. Doesn’t seem as natural a fit as Mina Kimes does if ABC wanted to pull a woman from their existing network but I think she could do a good job. Only critique is kinda like Jon Stewart it would just feel really random.
Nick Cannon (+5000)– I think Nick is too busy hosting The Masked Singer and Wild N’ Out to sneak over to the Jeopardy studio. Good for him for sneaking onto this list honestly, really seems like a joke submission till you realize he actually does have the credentials.
Al Michaels (+6600)– Love Al but again we don’t need someone ancient taking over Jeopardy. If he really wants to get into the trivia game let him host a Stump the Schwab reboot or something.
Joe Rogan (+6600)– My one biggest fear with Joe hosting is he would make the whole show video Jeopardy so he could just keep asking Jamie to pull the questions up. Might make contestants rip a bong after every question they got wrong or something. Would make for a good gritty reboot if Netflix wanted to do some three hour Jeopardy episodes.
Since his unfortunate passing in early November it’s been impossible but to notice how strong Alex’s enthusiasm for the game stayed with him to the very end. This last week has seen a steady stream of winners in the five figures and Trebek seems more excited at the proposition of another good game than he was the day before. He’s still disappointed but encouraging to anyone lagging behind. Still on top of the questions, rarely missing with only a step only with a quick pause here or there. Still particularly pissed when nobody knows the answer to a Canadian question. It still feels wrong to be speculating on who will fill his shoes but they unfortunately must be filled. While all signs point to Ken Jennings as being the heir to the throne, I really do hope that ABC does some thinking outside the box with this one. They have plenty of great options inside the Jeopardy universe particularly with Buzzy Cohen or in their own network with Mina Kimes. While no successor will appease every Jeopardy fan hopefully ABC will find someone with a stately demeanor and a genuine love for trivia who can hold down the show for decades to come.