“It’s a very tricky job,” he recently told USA Today. “The mechanics of hosting ‘Jeopardy!’ are daunting. There’s a lot going on at once, and Alex made it all look so easy. But I can tell you firsthand, it’s not easy.
“I hope I don’t look rusty,” he added. “But honestly it was just such a delight to be back on that stage.”
Jennings began his second stint as “Jeopardy!” host on Monday — the year anniversary of Alex Trebek’s death. Compared to the first time around, he seemed largely at ease as he bantered with the contestants, read the clues aloud and kept the game moving along at a good pace.
And during that game, there was at least one clue that had an interesting connection to Jennings. During the second round of the game, a contestant landed on the following Daily Double clue under the category “National Historic Landmarks”: “Temple Square in this state capital was designated a landmark in 1964.”
The answer — Salt Lake City — is where Jennings lived and worked as a software engineer when he had his legendary 74-game winning streak in 2004. Dane Reighard, an editor from Los Angeles, came up with the correct response and added $4,000 to his total.
Reighard ended up becoming the first champion under Jennings, winning Monday night’s game with a grand total of $28,000, according to “Jeopardy!” archives.
The Final Jeopardy clue that secured Reighard’s victory fell under the category “Names in African American History”: “He was Virginia’s first African American congressman, whose grandnephew, a famous poet, used his last name as a first name” (Answer at the very bottom.)
Jennings will host “Jeopardy!” for the next three weeks, rotating the position with Mayim Bialik for the foreseeable future, according to USA Today. The “Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time” champion isn’t actively lobbying for the position of full-time host, but he’s certainly not opposed to the idea.
“If my country called upon me to host ‘Jeopardy!’ I would happily do my patriotic duty,” he told USA Today. “That show is my first love. I, even as a little kid, I would run home from school every day to watch. It’s just a big part of who I am and the person I became, even before I was on the show. So it’s just enormously flattering to be in the mix. And I feel like the show is in good hands, at this point, no matter what happens.
“You’re not going to see me in the papers talking about how important it is that I ended up hosting,” he continued. “I would love it, but I honestly feel like, deep down, ‘Jeopardy!’ is going to be OK either way.”
(Answer: “Who is Langston?”)