Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek was frequently asked who he would like to replace him on the series often in the years before his death, and he usually had one answer. He often joked that Betty White would be a fine replacement for him. In 2018, before he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Trebek seriously considered the question though, providing TMZ with a possible list during an episode of OBJECTified.
In the July 2018 OBJECTified episode, Trebek first suggested Alex Faust, the play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Kings, or Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz. If the producers decided to hire a woman to replace him, Trebek suggested Laura Coates, an attorney, and CNN legal analyst. After learning about Trebek's recommendation, Coates tweeted that she was "incredibly honored" and "humbled" that Trebek knew who she was and thought she would "be a great host of my fave game show ever that I grew up watching" with her family and continues to watch with her children.
Coates was among the many Jeopardy! fans who shared their condolences to Trebek's family on Sunday. "I’m profoundly saddened by the passing of Alex Trebek. When my own grandmother lost her battle w/ pancreatic cancer, the void she left was devastating & unimaginable," Coates wrote. "I pray his family will feel the love we all feel thinking of the mark this humble legend has left on the world."
After Trebek announced he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2019, he was more frequently asked about who should replace him. He almost always said White should do it. "It’s probably going to be a woman, somebody younger, somebody bright, somebody personable, somebody with a great sense of humor," Trebek said during an event in February. "So I nominated Betty White."
More seriously though, Trebek admitted that he would have no say on who his replacement could be. During that same event, he said he would leave that decision up to the producers. He was asked about possibly being replaced by a big celebrity, but he said he would prefer a traditional game show host. "I don't know, are there many unemployed professional game show hosts out there right now," he said.
During a July interview with Good Morning America to promote his appropriately-titled memoir The Answer Is...: Reflections on My Life, Trebek explained why he always joked about White. "I joke with the audience, I say, Betty White," he said at the time. "Because they want somebody younger, somebody funnier. Betty and I have been friends for a long, long time."
When the Jeopardy! producers shared the sad news of Trebek's death Sunday morning, they did not announce plans for a new host. Trebek's final new episode will air on Christmas Day, and he finished filming on Oct. 29. On Monday, The Wrap reported George Stephanopoulos' representatives were "lobbying" for him to host.