Jeopardy! contestant Ken Jennings will step in to guest host the first new episodes of the game show filmed after Alex Trebek's death. The show will resume production on Nov. 30, with Jennings as the first of a series of interim guest hosts. Jennings holds several all-time Jeopardy! records, including most consecutive games won with 74 and the highest winning total in regular season play, winning over $2.5 million. Jennings also won the first Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time primetime tournament earlier this year.
"Alex believed in the importance of JEOPARDY! and always said that he wanted the show to go on after him," Jeopardy! Executive Producer Mike Richards said in a statement. "We will honor Alex's legacy by continuing to produce the game he loved with smart contestants and challenging clues. By bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, our goal is to create a sense of community and continuity for our viewers."
We will resume production on 11/30 with a series of interim guest hosts from the Jeopardy! family – starting with Ken Jennings. Additional guest hosts to be announced. pic.twitter.com/0MdGqnzp3R— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) November 23, 2020
Trebek filmed his last episode on Oct. 29, less than two weeks before his death on Nov. 8. The final episode was originally scheduled to air on Christmas Day, but due to anticipated pre-emptions from holiday programming, Trebek's last episodes will air during the week of Jan. 4. The guest-hosted episodes will begin airing during the week of Jan. 11. Producers also plan to air Trebek's 10 best episodes between Dec. 21 and Dec. 28.
Jennings has been a member of the Jeopardy! family since he first appeared in the show in 2004. Following Trebek's death, he shared a funny photo he took with Trebek and sent his condolences to the host's family. "Alex wasn't just the best ever at what he did. He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I'm grateful for every minute I got to spend with him," Jennings tweeted. "Thinking today about his family and his Jeopardy! family - which, in a way, included millions of us."
There will only ever be one Alex Trebek, but I'm honored to be helping Jeopardy! out with this in January. https://t.co/2m2b5IQnkw— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) November 23, 2020
In September, the Jeopardy! producers hired Jennings as a consulting producer on the series and to introduce special video clues. Fans speculated that this was part of his "grooming" to become the next host, but Richards denied that. In a PopCulture interview, Jennings said he was surprised to be offered a job after winning the Greatest of All Time tournament. "I assumed they would be putting me out to pasture. Like an athlete, I was realizing I was losing a step," he said. "I was getting a step slow. I won that last ring. I was getting happy to get the moment to take off my jersey."