- Jeopardy! is a popular game show hosted by Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik.
- Season 39 premiered September 12, 2022 and ended on July 28, 2023.
- Mayim stepped away from Jeopardy! during season 39 due to the writers strike.
- Season 40 will feature recycled questions and contestants amidst the strike.
Season 39 of Jeopardy! premiered on September 12, 2022, and ended on July 28, 2023, with new permanent hosts Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings. The beloved American game show is without its longtime host Alex Trebek, who tragically died in November 2020. Alex’s final show aired on January 8, 2021, after which a lineup of guest hosts took over. In August 2021, executive producer Mike Richards was named the host of the syndicated version, while Mayim was chosen to host the primetime specials and spinoff series. However, Mike had to step down due to past controversies, so Mayim and Ken were named interim hosts before the change was made permanent.
Although Mayim has been openly proud to host the hit show, she announced on May 11, 2023, she would be exiting the season early in support of the ongoing writers strikes in Hollywood, per Deadline. Ken took over her hosting duties and filmed the final episodes of the season between May 16 and May 19, aired through the final week of July. After the season wrapped, Jeopardy! showrunner Michael Davies confirmed that season 40 (premiering September 11, 2023) will feature recycled questions and contestants due to the writers strike. There will also be an increase in the prize money for season 40.
Ken and Mayim are the official hosts of Jeopardy!, though Mayim is taking a break from the show until the strike ends. Ken also hosts the Second Chance tournament and the Tournament of Champions, while Mayim’s hosted the Celebrity Jeopardy! and the National College Championship. Below, learn more about the reigning champion on Jeopardy! and upcoming shows.
Ken Jennings was the latest host of Jeopardy!
Ken was the host Jeopardy! as season 39 wrapped up at the end of July 2023. He hosted the show from when the season premiered, in September 2022, until February 2023, when Mayim stepped in to host. She was supposed to host until the end of the season, in July 2023, but she stepped down in support of the striking writers in Hollywood, as mentioned above. Ken hosted the rest of season 39 which ended on July 28. He is the most famous former Jeopardy! champion and has the longest winning streak in the show’s history with 74 consecutive wins. He won $4.5 million as a contestant.
Mayim began her hosting run in Feb. 2023 after she finished hosting Celebrity Jeopardy!, which was won by actor and comedian Ike Barinholtz.
When the official announcement was made about Ken and Mayim serving as the new hosts, Jeopardy! EP Michael Davies noted that the hosts would switch off hosting the flagship series. “When she takes over from Ken in January, the current plan is to have her host a couple of new tournaments as well as the Jeopardy! National College Championship and as many weeks as she can manage with her other primetime commitment to Call Me Kat,” Michael said in a statement. “We know you value consistency, so we will not flip-flop the hosts constantly and will keep you informed about the hosting schedule.”
Mayim loved being the host of Celebrity Jeopardy! which came down to Ike, Wil Wheaton, and Patton Oswalt in the final round that aired February 2, 2023.
“Wil is one of those people who has a vast amount of knowledge that not only he has and can recall quickly, which there are plenty of smart people who in the environment of Jeopardy! would look like they don’t know anything because it’s the ability to get the buzzer, get the timing, not start crying because you’re so anxious, which is what I would do, and be able to kind of pull that information quickly… Wil’s always been that person in my life, who I knew knew lots of things about lots of things. So it’s been very fun to see him get to show that side of himself this way,” she told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY about her former Big Bang Theory co-star.
HollywoodLife spoke to Mayim at the Call Me Kat press junket on September 21 about how she balances hosting Jeopardy! and producing/starring in the FOX sitcom. “I mean, just my exhaustion level mostly. I think I’ve always been a person who talks like I’m speaking through a textbook, so I don’t think Jeopardy has made that more so, but no, it’s definitely changed my scheduling and honestly, it’s brought into focus how much energy I do still need for Call Me Kat,” Mayim said.
“And last year, obviously, was kind of unusual circumstances to burn the candle at both ends,” she added. ‘But this year, I’m actually pacing out a lot more of my responsibilities to Jeopardy in a way that I don’t feel takes away our time from what we do at Call Me Kat. So, I guess that’s kind of a difference. But I’m very relieved I get to wear sneakers on Call Me Kat most of the time. And on Jeopardy, I always have to wear heels.”
Current Jeopardy! Champion
Since Jeopardy! is on hiatus right now, there is no current champion. Season 40 will premiere September 11, 2023, with returning contestants from the past few seasons. “I believe, principally that it would not be fair to have new contestants,” Jeopardy! EP Michael Davies said on the Inside Jeopardy! podcast in Aug. 2023. “We decided that we needed to invite back and give a second chance in general to players who probably thought that their chance to come back and play on the Alex Trebek stage had gone forever. So we’re gonna open the season with a second chance tournament for players from Season 37 who lost their initial game, and winners from that will advance to a Season 37 and Season 38 Champions Wild Card.”
Michael also revealed that the second place and third place prize amounts are increasing by $1,000 each for season 40. “The third place prize will move up to $2,000. The second place prize will move up to $3,000,” he said. “This is something that we’ve been working on ever since I really took the reins of the show.”
Mike Richards scandal
Jeopardy! experienced a lot of drama in the summer of 2021 related to Mike’s job as host. Mike was an Executive Producer on the show when he was named permanent host in August 2021. However, he announced he was stepping down as the host of the syndicated game show on Aug. 20 following intense backlash and the resurfacing of past controversies. The decision came only days after The Ringer published a report that included controversial comments made by Mike on The Randumb Showpodcast in 2013 and 2014. In one episode, he called his co-host and former assistant Beth Triffon a “booth ho” and “booth slut.” In a 2014 episode, Mike said one-piece swimsuits made women look “really frumpy and overweight.” After these comments surfaced, the podcast was taken down and he apologized in a statement.
Prior to the podcast scandal, Mike had to address past harassment and discrimination lawsuits during his time as an executive producer on The Price Is Right. In a statement to The Wrap, Mike responded to former model Brandi Cochran’s lawsuit. Brandi claimed producers allegedly harassed her after she revealed she was pregnant and was allegedly fired after her maternity leave. “I would not say anything to disrespect anyone’s pregnancy and have always supported my colleagues on their parenting journeys,” Mike said. “During my tenure, our female cast members welcomed seven beautiful children. We embraced and celebrated each pregnancy and birth both in front of and behind the camera.” Model Lanisha Cole alleged Mike and another producer spoke abusively towards her in a 2011 sexual harassment lawsuit. Mike was later dropped as a defendant in the lawsuit, and it was settled in 2013.
Past guest hosts
Once Alex’s final episode aired in January 2021, the show enlisted a star-studded lineup of guest hosts until season 38 premiered in September 2021. The guest hosts for the first three months included Mike, Mayim, Ken, journalist Katie Couric, talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, and 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker. Other hosts that followed included Today‘s Savannah Guthrie, neurosurgeon and CNN medical adviser Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Star Trek, and Reading Rainbow star LeVar Burton, Good Morning America anchors George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts, author and CNBC host David Faber, and sportscaster Joe Buck.
Alex did not name his ideal pick for a permanent host before he died. The legendary TV personality hosted the show from 1984 until his tragic passing of pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old when he died.
Who Is The Permanent Host?
Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings were named permanent hosts of Jeopardy! on July 27, 2022. It was decided that Ken would host Season 39 from September 2022 until February 2023. He hosted the Second Chance competition and the Tournament of Champions. Mayim hosted Celebrity Jeopardy! before she took over for Ken to host the flagship series starting in February 2023. She’s also been hosting new tournaments such as the National College Championship.
Mayim stepped away from Jeopardy! temporarily in the summer of 2023 in solidarity with the writers strike. She’s expected to return to the show whenever the strike ends. It’s unclear if Alex will follow Mayim’s lead and opt out of hosting season 40 if it premieres while the strike is still going.