Ken Jennings is the first of several Jeopardy! guest hosts

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Written by: Isabelle Hendrich, staff writer

Los Angeles — On Mon., Jan. 11 Jeopardy! aired its first episode with Ken Jennings as a guest host. He is also the consulting producer and his last episode aired on February 19, 2021.

After more than 36 years of Jeopardy! and 8,00 episodes, Alex Trebek’s last episode aired on Fri. Jan. 8. Alex Trebek died of pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8, 2020. He was 80 years old. 

Katie Couric, Aaron Rodgers, Bill Whitaker, Anderson Cooper, Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Mayim Bialik have been confirmed as future guest hosts for this spring. Mike Richards, the executive producer of Jeopardy! will host for two weeks after Jennings, from Feb. 22, 20201 to March 5, 2021. 

In the announcement of the new guest hosts, Richards said, “Alex was a legend, revered by all of us. I want to thank our guest host’s who will not only help all of us celebrate his great legacy, but also bring their own touch to the show.” 

Katie Couric will be the first woman to host Jeopardy!. The episodes she is hosting will be after Richards and Jennings, running from March 8, 2021 to March 19, 2021. Katie Couric is an online and television journalist and author. 

It was also stated that a donation will be made to a charity of the guest host’s choice of the cumulative winnings of the contestants. 

Jennings first appeared on Jeopardy! in 2004. In his 74-game winning streak, Jennings broke numerous records. He currently holds the most consecutive games won, 74, and highest earnings in a regular-season play. Jennings’ winnings totaled more than $2 million in 2004. 

Before Jeopardy!, Jennings was a software engineer from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Jennings paid tribute to former host Alex Trebek before beginning his first show on Mon. Jan. 11. In his conclusion, Jennings said, “Like all Jeopardy! fans, I miss Alex very much. And I thank him for what he did for all of us. Let’s be totally clear, no one will ever replace the great Alex Trebek, but we can honor him by playing the game he loved.” 

While delivering his short, but heartfelt words, Jennings became emotional. 

Besides appearing on Jeopardy! in 2004, Jennings came back in 2005 for the Ultimate Tournament of Champions in 2005. He also participated in Jeopardy!: The IMB Challenge in 2011, Jeopardy! Battle of the Decades in 2014 and Jeopardy! All-Star Games in 2019. 

In Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time, Jennings won over Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer. 

Jennings is also an author of 12 books, five of which are a children’s series called Junior Genius Guides. Three of Jennings’ books are about his own experiences on Jeopardy! The three are titled, “Brainiac”, “Maphead”, and “Because I said so!”. 

Jennings ended Monday’s episode by saying, “[the champion] will be joining us tomorrow, and I hope you join us as well. Thank you, Alex.” 

Isabelle Hendrich is a communication studies major and history minor at Bryan College. Besides running, Isabelle likes to read and do crafts. She is also a triplet whose siblings, Benjamin and Savannah, are also attending Bryan College.