Jeopardy! champion Buzzy Cohen is back, this time as the guest host for the 2021 Tournament of Champions, which kicks off on Monday and continues through May 28. Cohen, 36, became a fan-favorite contestant during his original six-game winning streak in 2016 before he won the Tournament of Champions himself in 2017. Before the first game airs tonight, Cohen shared a contemplative photo from the historic Jeopardy! set in Los Angeles. This is the first tournament since Alex Trebek's death in November 2020.
The picture shows Cohen standing backstage, behind the giant game board as he waits for longtime announcer Johnny Gilbert to introduce him. The board also sports the Tournament of Champions logo. "This is and will always be Alex's stage. Humbled and honored to join the legacy today," Cohen wrote. By hosting the tournament, this means Cohen will never be eligible to compete on Jeopardy! again.
This is and will always be Alex's stage. Humbled and honored to join the legacy today. pic.twitter.com/7hisPNqYQv— Buzzy Cohen (@buzztronics) May 17, 2021
"Buzzy has been where each of these champions is, so we think it'll be comforting for the contestants to see a familiar face behind the lectern," Jeopardy! Executive Producer Mike Richards said in a statement last month when Cohen was named the tournament host. "We will miss seeing him compete, but we look forward to seeing how he uses his quick wit and personality as guest host." The tournament features 15 recent Jeopardy! champions who won the most games between the 2019 tournament and the end of 2020, as well as the recent Teachers and College Championship winners.
The winner will receive a $250,000 grand prize, while second and third place winners will receive $100,000 and $50,000, respectively. Jeopardy! will also donate $250,000 to the Hope of the Valley Trebek Center for the Homeless. The 2021 tournament will also include a tribute to Brayden Smith, who won five games during Trebek's final episodes. Smith died in February at 24, reportedly from complications of surgery for an undisclosed condition.
When he competed on Jeopardy!, Trebek nicknamed Cohen "Mr. Personality," but in an interview Jeopardy! released before the tournament, Cohen was left without words. "I stood on this stage four years ago and I told Alex with all love and admiration that I'd love to host this show that I love so much. and I can't believe I got that shot," he said.
After the tournament wraps, actress Mayim Bialik will guest host from May 31 to June 11. Today anchor Savannah Guthrie, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Good Morning America anchors George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts, actor LeVar Burton, CNBC's David Faber, and Fox Sports' Joe Buck will host episodes through the middle of August. Jeopardy! expects to name a full-time host at the start of the next season in the fall.