JEOPARDY!’s Ken Jennings has hinted that the late Alex Trebek wanted him to be his one and only successor, a new no-holds-barred interview revealed.
He also implied he was surprised Mayim Bialik – with whom he now switches off – was even considered.
They began regularly filling in for the iconic living room fixture after his tragic 2020 passing at the age of 80.
Ken said point-blank on if Alex’s choice: “I don’t want to put words in anybody’s mouth, but over the years, I did get the sense that it was an idea that wouldn’t have annoyed Alex.”
Alex’s widow Jean gifted Ken her late husband’s cufflinks, which he said was: “such a lovely gesture.”
“He asked me to read his audiobook when his voice wasn’t up to doing every chapter towards the end. I felt like that was a very nice gesture of successorship that he didn’t have to make.”
“A masterful way of saying ‘I think it’s what Alex would have wanted’ in the not-putting-words-in-his-mouth permutation,” one Redditor wrote.
“Excuse me while I go cry,” wrote another as the interview saw Ken open up about their relationship too.
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‘IT WASN’T MY DECISION’
While touching on his bond with Alex, Ken also did tell Vulture that he was surprised two hosts were a possibility.
“At the time, the idea that the hosting position could be split between multiple people didn’t occur to me, although now it seems pretty natural,” he amended.
“Obviously, it wasn’t my decision.
“That would be Sony Pictures Television. The virtue of it is that Jeopardy! has a huge audience and a really diverse one.
Hosting style is largely a matter of personal taste.”
‘DIFFERENT REASONS’ FOR MAYIM
Ken added: “Look, it’s a dream job. I’ll be candid: I wanted this job.
“I’m going to keep doing the job for as long as they’ll have me.”
When asked if he got “the sense that this is also Mayim’s dream job” Ken “paused” per Vulture.
“I think so, but possibly for different reasons [not necessarily having to do with the show].
“My sense, from talking to her, is that she’s very proud to represent women, particularly in STEM fields, where there isn’t a great gender balance.”
‘I’D TAKE A BULLET FOR HIM’
Ken was also asked about the last time he spoke with the TV titan.
“It was the same weekend he passed away. A producer set up a call, and his voice was notably weaker than we’d ever heard it on the air, which really struck me at first.
“It was a tough moment. But once you got over the timbre of the voice, he was still very much Alex.”
“But the thing that stuck with me is he thanked me for coming in to fill in for him.”
“That just broke me. I said, ‘Alex, are you kidding? We should be thanking you. I’d take a bullet for you, Alex.'”
Ken won his still-record 74 games and $2.5M in 2004 all under the iconic figure who hosted since 1984.
The game show’s long-reigning legend didn’t name a replacement before tragically passing of pancreatic cancer, and a “carousel” of guest hosts, as Ken told the outlet, ensued.
The search first landed on former executive producer Mike Richards who nabbed the hosting gig from the inside before the shocking decision was “reversed” a week later due to his sexist comments resurfacing.
The decision to keep both hosts permanently was announced on July 27, 2022, following months of speculation and fiendish fan speculation over whether producers would drop either Mayim or Ken.