Ken Jennings: 5 Things To Know About ‘Jeopardy!’ Interim Host After Alex Trebek’s Passing

Ken Jennings, who won this year's 'Greatest of All Time' 'Jeopardy!' tournament, will take over for the late Alex Trebek as the first in a series of upcoming guest hosts. Here are five things about him.

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Ken Jennings
View gallery
Image Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Ken Jennings, 46, was named the GOAT of Jeopardy! — AKA, the greatest of all time in Jan. and now he’s serving as the game show’s host for a short time after Alex Trebek‘s passing of pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8, the show announced on Nov. 23. The trivia master, who rightfully earned his GOAT title on the Jan. 14 episode of Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time, after defeating fellow legends James Holzhauer, 36, and Brad Rutter, 41, will be the first of a series of guest hosts when production resumes on Nov. 30. The show is currently holding off on announcing a permanent host as the crew comes to terms with the transition that will eventually take place.

“Alex believed in the importance of Jeopardy! and always said that he wanted the show to go on after him,” executive producer Mike Richards said, the outlet reported. “We will honor Alex’s legacy by continuing to produce the game he loved with smart contestants and challenging clues. By bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, our goal is to create a sense of community and continuity for our viewers.”

Ken Jennings
Ken Jennings will serve as the first of a series of guest hosts on ‘Jeopardy!’. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Ken’s participation as host is sure to be an exciting one since he’s already made a name for himself with his one million dollar prize in the GOAT tournament. He rose to victory in the fourth episode, and it was an incredible feat, considering he had repeatedly lost to Brad in past Jeopardy! tournaments. Before Alex’s passing, he had recorded multiple episodes ahead of time, so his final one is set to air on Jan. 8, 2021, with Ken’s shows following soon after.

Now that Ken is changing his place from contestant to host, here are five things you should know about him.

1. Ken holds the Jeopardy! record for most games won in a row. With 74 consecutive wins from 2004, Ken makes a daunting opponent! For comparison, James’ winning streak ended at 32 games. It’d be unfair to pit Brad’s stats against his opponents in this case, since he competed on the show while winning streaks were still limited to five games. Ken lost his 75th game to a question about H&R Block, of all topics!

2. Ken is still a runner-up when it comes to the highest earner on Jeopardy!. Ken didn’t limit his success to his first round on Jeopardy!. He returned for multiple follow-up tournaments: Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions, IBM Challenge, Jeopardy! Battle of the Decades and Jeopardy! All-Star Games. This puts Ken’s Jeopardy! winnings at $4,370,700 million, which includes his winnings from The Greatest Of All Time tournament. But that number still falls short to Brad’s Jeopardy! earnings; he still ranks No. 1 in the game show’s hall of fame for “All-Time Winnings.” Brad already went into the competition with a healthy total earnings amount of $4,688,436.

3. The champ launched a successful book career after his breakthrough winnings in 2004. For adults, Ken has released the following titles: Brainiac, Ken Jennings’s Trivia Almanac, Maphead, Because I Said So! and Planet Funny. He also authors The Junior Genius Guides for children.

4. Ken was all over the map while growing up. Although Ken was born in Seattle, Washington in 1974, he spent 15 years in Korea and Singapore because of his father’s overseas career as an attorney. But thanks to the Armed Forces Network, Ken could watch the game show “religiously after school every afternoon,” according to his online bio.

5. Before Jeopardy!, Ken was already immersed in the trivia world. Ken took his passion from watching Jeopardy! on television and became the captain of the quiz bowl team at Brigham Young University, where Ken graduated from with a double major in English and computer science in 2000. During his time as an undergrad, Ken wrote and edited questions for the National Academic Quiz Tournaments, which hosts quiz competitions for colleges and high schools around America, according to Ken’s personal bio. After graduation, Ken worked as a software engineer in Salt Lake City.