Updated: May 10, 2021
After 36 years of Alex Trebek quizzing the nation and stealing our hearts, Sony now has the impossible task of finding the next host to replace the game show icon. Who’s got next? Let’s look at Who Are… the favorites.
On September 10, 1984, trivia fans from all over heard the legendary Johnny Gilbert re-introduce the world to Jeopardy! with its new host, Alex Trebek. I’m not sure anyone on that night realized just how crucial Trebek would go on to be to American pop culture. Now, Sony has to try and find someone to fill the impossible shoes that Trebek left behind at the Jeopardy! podium.
For the next 36 years, Monday-Friday, Alex Trebek walked into our homes every evening and asked us 61 questions (unless the contestants were slow on the buzzer) and tested our knowledge, often to our embarrassment. But regardless of how many questions we or the contestants missed, there was one thing that kept us glued to our screens; Trebek.
Alex brought a lot to the Jeopardy! podium. He relentlessly prepared for every show, treating every question with the respect it deserved. He brought a very dry sense of humor and charm that made you love his jokes, even when they weren’t all that funny. And perhaps most importantly, he gave the impression that he knew every answer to every question which created a certain ethos that the audience respected. He possessed the perfect qualities to host a quiz show, and he defiantly did not try to make trivia “cool”. Which, unequivocally, made trivia cool.
On March 6, 2019 Alex Trebek shocked the world by announcing he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. While seemingly everyone started to question what would happen with the show, there was one person who had no interest in thinking about the future of the show; Trebek himself. He continued to host the quiz show night after night, including perhaps the greatest trivia battle of all-time in the Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time tournament in January of 2020 (more on this tournament in a bit). Despite battling pancreatic cancer, Trebek continued to host the show until he tragically passed on November 8, 2020. Despite a career that included winning seven (yes, 7!) Emmys for Outstanding Game Show Host and the Lifetime Achievement Award, arguably the greatest feather in his illustrious cap is that he chose to continue to host the show while battling cancer. His love for the game and love for the fans was what truly separated him from his peers.
In it’s 37th season, Jeopardy! has been using a rotating-door strategy for their host, trotting out a new host every few weeks while Sony takes their time in finding their next host. This is a crucial decision, as the last thing Sony wants is to have to look for a new host two years from now. Let’s take a look at the seven top candidates for the job.
Ken Jennings, 46
Ken Jennings is an American game show icon who won a staggering record 74 consecutive games in 2004 and won the Jeopardy! The Greatest of All-Time tournament against Brad Rutter and James Holzhaeur in January of 2020. On top of all those accomplishments, Jennings has been an executive producer on the show since early 2020, and was the first guest host of Jeopardy! after the passing of Alex Trebek.
Jennings is the sentimental favorite of many fans. Few contestants have been able to dominate pop culture like Jennings has been able to, and his hiring would bring fans of the show a sense of comfort, keeping the hosting gig “in the family”.
Aside from the obvious connections to the show, Jennings has a lot of intangibles that make for an intriguing candidate: He’s only 46 years old, so that would provide Sony with a stable candidate who could host the show, theoretically, for the next 30+ years, a huge selling point. And his personality fits the show like a glove; he brings the same type of charm and humor that Trebek brought to the show, and he gives the audience the impression he knows every answer (because he does).
Currently on Odds Shark, Jennings has the second-best odds of landing the gig, sitting at +210 (if you bet $100, you get back the initial $100+$210).
2. LeVar Burton, 64
This name may not jump off the page to millennials, but I’m willing to bet most of you grew up watching Reading Rainbow when you were little. I know I certainly did. Burton was the host of the PBS educational program for over 20 years, which the Sony executives will likely look favorably upon. As well as Reading Rainbow, Burton is well known for his role in the Star Trek franchise, which likely would bring in a lot of science fiction fans, another plus.
Perhaps even more important than his hosting chops, Burton has emerged as a fan-favorite for gig. There was a petition swirling around online calling for Burton to be the next host of Jeopardy! that ABCNews covered that was signed by more than 200,000 people! This turned heads at Sony, adding him to the guest-host cast shortly after the petition went viral.
Currently at Odds Shark, Burton is the odds on favorite to be the next host at +175.
3. Mayim Bialik, 45
Bialik brings two qualities to the table that the executives at Sony are going to be excited about; her age and her popularity.
Bialik is 45 years young, which means she could potentially host Jeopardy! for decades to come. As where LeVar Burton and other candidates are on the older side, Bialik gives Sony longevity and security in one of their most premiere jobs.
The other major quality that Bialik would bring to the job is her popularity. She portrayed Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, arguably the most successful sitcom of the 2010’s. She was a genius on the show so fans are already used to seeing her know everything, making for a seamless transition to Jeopardy! Her popularity on the show would likely bring many fans, especially younger fans, to the show which is something Sony desperately wants.
Bialik also brings a higher level of comedic chops than the other candidates, which could only help ratings. Currently Bialik is considered a long shot at +1400.
4. Anderson Cooper, 53
The Silver Fox! Anderson Cooper is certainly a polarizing candidate for this job. He has the charm, the looks, the age and the intelligence to be an effective host. Those facts are undeniable. With Cooper though, one of his biggest appeals is also one of his biggest drawbacks.
Cooper has been the face of CNN for nearly the past two decades, so he is a face that everyone recognizes and many people trust. However, with the growing political divide in this country, Cooper may turn off as many viewers as he gets to tune in. CNN has been cast as the democratic news channel, while Fox News has been cast as the republican source of information. Because of this divide, fans of the show who are republican are more likely to be turned off by Cooper hosting than if they went a different route. And given the fact that the Jeopardy! audience is fairly old and the republican party is older than the democratic party, there is a lot of potential for Cooper to turn off faithful fans of the show.
Anderson Cooper certainly would have the chops to host the show, the question is if the Sony executives are willing to take the risk given the country’s political climate. Currently Cooper has pretty long odds at landing the host gig, with his odds at +1,500.
5. Robin Roberts, 60
The great Robin Roberts is a strong candidate to be the next host of Jeopardy! Roberts has been a host of Good Morning America since 2005, and was a sports anchor at ESPN the 15 years prior to that. She clearly possesses the chops to host the quiz show, with an infectious personality and a charm that audiences and contestants alike would fall in love with.
The biggest downside of hiring Roberts would be her age; at 60, she couldn’t host the show for 30+ years like some of the other leading candidates. With that said, Roberts has shown the tenacity and strength to work through anything. Much like Trebek, Roberts was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, and then in 2012 she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). She has continued to work through all of that, showing courage and strength that cannot be understated. So if anyone can work through old age, Roberts is someone you wouldn't want to bet against.
Speaking of betting, currently there are no odds for Roberts to be the next host of Jeopardy! on Odds Shark. You will be able to check out Roberts as the guest host of Jeopardy! this coming summer, on July 19-23.
6. Joe Buck, 52
Some people will want to get their “Joe Buck Yourself” jokes off now. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Now that those are out of the way, Joe Buck is a damn good sports commentator. Buck is the voice of FOX Sports, calling both October baseball and NFL games, including multiple Super Bowls. He carries a broadcast with energy and knowledge like no other commentator, proving he has the chops to host the famed quiz show. Not to mention he has the perfect voice:
Buck is young enough to conceivably host Jeopardy! for 25-30 years, would bring in sports fans, and provide a strong voice for the next chapter of the show. These are all things Sony will strongly consider when making this decision.
Much like Roberts, there are no odds on Buck landing the job on Odds Shark as of now. You can check out his stint as guest host on Jeopardy! late this summer, August 9-13.
7. Aaron Rodgers, 37
This is by far the most fun one to speculate, and the one that brings the most drama. Green Bay Packers superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers recently finished his stint as the guest host of Jeopardy!, a show he has competed on and loved his entire life. This started out as a fun stint, letting Rodgers live out a dream of his. It quickly turned to awkward, however, when Rodgers took it very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he threatened the Packers by saying he wanted out and leveraging Jeopardy! against them.
Rodgers has come out publicly and said he wants to be the next permanent host, and that he feels he could do that and play football. It’s clear he wants the job. But does Sony want him? When Rodgers dropped a bombshell on the NFL Draft by informing the Packers we had no intention of playing in Green Bay this upcoming season, it was reported that the executives at Sony were impressed by Rodgers' turn behind the podium. Now that could mean one of two things; maybe they genuinely were impressed with him and are strongly considering him for the job. The other option is that they might have been impressed because they had low expectations for him, and he was better than they thought an athlete would have been. Either way, he obviously left a positive impression on Jeopardy! if he is using them as leverage to force his way out of Green Bay.
Aaron Rodgers certainly does bring a lot to the table. He is very smart, which is something the next host will almost certainly need to be. He also can bring in an enormous audience to the show with his popularity in the NFL. That is something Sony will have to take a long, hard look at. According to SI.com, the ratings for Jeopardy! were up 14% from the previous week, and were their highest ratings in a month. This isn’t surprising, and would be expected if they named him the permanent host. He’s also young enough that he could host for upwards of 40 years, should he decide to trade in Sunday afternoon’s for weeknights in primetime.
Currently on Odds Shark, Rodgers is considered a strong contender for the job at +400 odds.
Sony is in a position no one wanted them to be in, trying to fill the shoes of Alex Trebek. They appear to be taking their time with the decision, as they have guest hosts lined up through the summer. They want to make sure they find the right host, someone who can be there for decades like Trebek was. Look for one of the seven names above to be on your screens every weeknight starting in 2022, as Johnny Gilbert introduces them as the host of Jeopardy!