Ken Jennings May Not Return to "Jeopardy!" Until Next Season After Tonight
Co-host Mayim Bialik will be taking over on Monday, Feb. 20.
Getting behind the podium on Jeopardy! is no easy feat—longtime host Alex Trebek was widely beloved, and when he died in 2020, he left big shoes to fill. In July 2022, producers announced that Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik stepped up to the plate and signed on to split the duties as alternating hosts. This season, Jennings has been at the helm since the Sept. 2022 premiere, but on Feb. 20, Bialik is returning to host the High School Reunion Tournament of Champions. Now, fans are wondering when another swap will happen—but it might not be until next season. Read on to find out how long Jennings is speculated to be out.
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Jennings might not return until September.
Jennings' final episode will air tonight, Feb. 17, as the High School Reunion Tournament of Champions kicks off on Monday. The tournament runs for three weeks, concluding on March 9, according to the show's official website.
While Bialik quizzes contestants, Jennings will be taking a break—and as The U.S. Sun reports, it could be for the remainder of the season. Bialik has yet to host a regular show this year (she has been hosting Celebrity Jeopardy), so she's due for some time in the spotlight.
The outlet reports that Bialik could actually be a fixture for the remainder of Season 39, which concludes on July 28. That means Jennings wouldn't return until Season 40 kicks off in Sept. 2023.
There's been no official announcement about when the hosts will switch again, but some are more hopeful than others. Twitter account @IsKenHosting claims that Jennings may actually return on Friday, March 10—after the high school tournament concludes—and host through April 14.
Best Life reached out to Jeopardy! for confirmation on Jennings' return date, but has yet to hear back.
Some fans aren't thrilled with Bialik's return.
Bialik was initially set to resume hosting duties in January, but due to scheduling conflicts with her sitcom Call Me Kat, her return date was pushed back, producer Sarah Whitcomb Foss revealed during a Jan. 9 episode of the Inside Jeopardy! podcast
"We know there's been a lot of discussion around our hosting schedule. We want to let you know when you can watch Mayim, when you can watch Ken in the coming months," she said. "Not for any lack of wanting to have both hosts on the show as much as possible—just scheduling. Mayim is a busy, busy woman! We're excited to have her back."
Fans, however, were quick to share their disdain for Bialik, with some calling her "unwatchable" and "condescending" on one of the show's Facebook posts.
"Can't believe Mayim will be replacing Ken soon! I will DEFINITELY not watch," a commenter wrote. "She's so annoying and distracting with that theatrical smile. Ken is invisible in his [seamless] presentation. To me, he's the closest thing to having Alex back! What's wrong with these producers? If it ain't broke, guys!!?"
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Others are upset that they have to watch the High School Reunion Tournament.
In addition to fans airing their grievances about Bialik, some are not thrilled with the upcoming tournament. The first-of-its-kind event features 27 former Teen Tournament contestants, with the winner receiving a $100,000 prize and a spot in the 2023 Tournament of Champions.
"I can't believe they will spend 14 days on the high school reunion tournament," one Facebook comment on the Jeopardy! Facebook page reads, per The U.S. Sun. "Way too long for a tournament many care nothing about."
One fan also complained about the "easier" questions given to the teen and college contestants, while another went as far as to call the competition "the least interesting of all the tournaments."
Sources say that neither host is as "thrilling" as Trebek.
While Bialik may be bearing the brunt of fans' aggression, not everyone wants Jennings back either. One fan called him "snarky" and said that they prefer Bialik's hosting style. But when compared with Trebek, sources tell Radar that neither can hold a candle to the predecessor.
"Seeing Alex live was a huge deal for the fans of the show," an insider told the outlet. "Seeing Ken and Mayim live just isn't as thrilling!" They claimed that Jeopardy! gives away free seats to try to draw audience members in, but even that doesn't help and "no one wants to go."
Another source added, "Part of the problem is the show doesn't make it easy to attend. You have to call to confirm your free tickets five days before taping. Then, the day of filming can take around four hours!"
Other sources, however, told Radar that there's "no truth" to these rumors.