by Julian Spivey
Over the last week “Jeopardy,” one of the most popular and longest-running syndicated game shows ever, has held a “Greatest Jeopardy Champion of All-Time” tournament that has seen the show bring in ratings for ABC that are higher than the numbers that games of the NBA Finals and World Series have brought in.
On night four of the event on Tuesday, January 14 Ken Jennings was crowned the champion of the tournament as the greatest Jeopardy contestant of all-time, on just the fourth night of a tournament that could’ve lasted a potential nine nights (I’m sure ABC is highly disappointed that Jennings put away James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter early in the going).
Jennings, who is a 45-year old software engineer turned author from Seattle, took home the $1 million prize for winning the tournament. This grand prize brings his career “Jeopardy” winnings to almost $4.5 million.
I believe the “Greatest Jeopardy Champion of All-Time” tournament should’ve had higher stakes. Sure, the $1 million prize is terrific, but I also believe the tournament should’ve been a fight for the right to be the next host of “Jeopardy.”
There has been much talk of late about who will take over the reigns as “Jeopardy” host when Alex Trebek, 79, leaves the show. Who better to do so than the greatest contestant the show has ever had?
Now, I’m not sure if anybody could fill Trebek’s shoes – he’s hosted the show for more than 35 years now – and seems as important to the show as the answers and questions themselves. But whenever that day comes, I believe fans of the show would prefer somebody who they’ve grown accustomed to seeing dominate the game and enjoy like Jennings. I think it would be a better option for the thinking person’s game than say hiring a comedian to replace a legend as “The Price is Right” did with Drew Carey taking over for Bob Barker.
At a recent Television Critics Association press tour Trebek was asked how much longer he would continue to host the show at his age and going through stage four pancreatic cancer, which he was diagnosed with last year.
Trebek said: “Thinking about retiring and retiring are two different things … We’ll see what happens. As long as I feel my skills have not diminished too much and as long as I’m enjoying spending time with people, Harry [Friedman – the show’s executive producer] and the writing staff, then I’ll continue doing it.”
I’m sure all fans of “Jeopardy” wish for Trebek to go on hosting the program as long as possible, but when that day comes that he has to step aside Ken Jennings has proven time and time again that he’s the right man for the job if he wants it. I just hope producers of the show are smart enough to ask him.