Who is the best “Jeopardy!” guest host?

by Christopher Kim

With the passing of legendary “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, a great chapter of the popular game show came to an end. However, the legacy of the trivia contest that influenced generations of viewers continues on. While “Jeopardy!” has yet to find a permanent replacement for Trebek, it has gone through a series of guest hosts, one of whom could possibly become the future host. The following is a ranking of all of the guests that have hosted “Jeopardy!” after Trebek’s death, from worst to best. (Note: this list includes guest hosts up to Bill Whitaker, who ended his two-week run on May 15.)

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7) Dr. Mehmet Oz

The popular physician and TV host garnered mostly negative reviews from viewers. This mainly stemmed from his reputation of promoting false medical advice on his own program, “The Dr. Oz Show.” Before his episodes even aired, fans of “Jeopardy!” went on Twitter, calling to boycott the show due to his controversial history. During his two-week gig as the guest host, the show fell to a disappointing 5.2 rating, the lowest it had been since the week before Trebek’s final episodes. More concerning, however, was Oz’s behavior while on the “Jeopardy!” set. He was noticeably lazy and unenthusiastic while reading off questions. Additionally, according to an article by the New York Post, Oz allegedly made fun of a contestant for failing to answer a question.

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6) Bill Whitaker

The “60 Minutes” correspondent was a friendly presence on the show during his two-week run that ended last Friday. However, his performance was mediocre at best. Oftentimes, there were long pauses after a contestant answered a question. In addition, his presentation during the opening of the show felt very robotic and overly scripted. Overall, there just wasn’t enough energy in Whitaker’s performance as guest host, a quality that would be especially vital for a permanent host.

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5) Katie Couric

The former host and anchor of “Today” and “CBS Evening News” became the first-ever female host of “Jeopardy!” with her two-week run. Her historic appearance alone made for memorable episodes. Her hospitality, however, slowed down the pace of the show at times, particularly when she conversed with participants at the start of the show.

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4) Ken Jennings

In 2004, this legendary “Jeopardy!” champion won 74 straight games, taking home a total of $2.5 million. Naturally, many fans expected Jennings to be on the list of guest hosts to take up the mantle. Some even believed he should be the natural heir of Trebek. However, right before Jennings’ six-week gig began, his past controversial Twitter posts resurfaced. Among other things, fans brought up a tweet from Jennings in 2014, in which he stated, “Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair,” according to USA Today. While Jennings apologized for the sensitive comments he made, such controversy will stick around and possibly arise again if the show ever considers putting him on as a permanent host.

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3) Anderson Cooper

Cooper’s performance in his two weeks as host was as professional and powerful as his anchoring on CNN. His smooth communication and sometimes even witty presence made the show all the more tolerable to watch. Unfortunately, it’s most likely that out of all of the guest hosts thus far, Cooper will not become the permanent host because of his well-established fixture at CNN.

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2) Aaron Rodgers

The Green Bay Packers quarterback and former celebrity “Jeopardy!” champion had an impressive two-week gig as guest host. Maybe it had something to do with the dismal end of Oz’s run right before him, but if the show decides to choose him as the next permanent host of “Jeopardy!,” viewers will not be disappointed. His celebrity stardom combined with his surprisingly excellent presentation skills made him a powerful yet calming presence on the show. If the star quarterback is considering retiring from the NFL soon, this may just be the perfect next chapter for both him and the show.

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1) Mike Richards

The executive producer of “Jeopardy!” had to fill in for two weeks due to a COVID-19 spike in Los Angeles that made traveling a safety concern for the previously-planned guest host. While practically unheard of before his debut as guest host, Richards performed magnificently. His calm demeanor and friendly appearance even almost brought back that welcoming presence of Alex Trebek himself. Without having the pressure of already being a famous celebrity, and with no legitimate controversies weighing him down, maybe it was just easier for Richards to perform as smoothly and naturally as he did.

Conclusion

It should be noted that this list is completely opinionated. You may agree or disagree with the ranking presented above. Don’t think this list lines up with your own opinions? Make sure to leave a comment on who you think was the best and worst guest host on “Jeopardy!”

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