Of the four times the CNN anchor has competed on the quiz show, he’s won twice and lost twice — in his words, “very badly.”
One of those losses was to comedian and actor Cheech Marin.
“I crushed it the first time,” Cooper recently told Jimmy Kimmel, according to The Wrap. “The second time, I was playing against Cheech Marin, and I was like ... this is going to be a cakewalk. I’ve seen ‘Cheech & Chong’ movies, the synapses can’t be firing that quickly. Turns out he’s the smartest guy, the quickest guy. He destroyed me. And do you know what it’s like to walk into the CNN newsroom the day after Cheech Marin has destroyed you on ‘Jeopardy’? Like, Wolf Blitzer reading the paper, giving you side eye as you walk by.”
Now, Cooper is moving into a new “Jeopardy!” role.
The journalist will serve as guest host of “Jeopardy!” April 19-30. Cooper is the show’s sixth guest host since late host Alex Trebek died in November 2020, and he recently admitted he was nervous to stand in Trebek’s place.
“I don’t really get nervous very often much anymore, but I definitely found myself very focused,” Cooper told “Jeopardy!” producers in a recent interview, adding that as a lifelong fan of the quiz show, it’s a “dream come true” to be hosting.
“I’m just hoping not to really mess it up,” he continued. “It’s such a great show and I’m such a fan, and there’s so many levels to it and I want it to be a really good experience for the players. ... I want to do the best job possible for them.”
Cooper has watched “Jeopardy!” since his high school days and told producers that he often enjoyed watching the show with his brother and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, who died in 2019.
“There’s not a lot of stuff you can do as a family together and know that it’s intelligent and educational and fun and exciting,” Cooper said. “So I love that ‘Jeopardy!’ has been able to keep that and keep that going for these generations. ... And now I have a son and I cannot wait to sit at home and watch with him.”
During Cooper’s two-week stint as host, “Jeopardy!” will match the earnings of the contestants and donate to two organizations of Cooper’s choice: the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti and Justice Defenders, which works to provide attorneys and paralegals for communities in East Africa.
“Getting to guest host these next two weeks, raise money for good causes and pay tribute to Alex is really an honor,” Cooper says at the start of his “Jeopardy!” host debut Monday night. “I miss him and I know that we all do.”
After Cooper, Bill Whitaker, a “60 Minutes” correspondent, will host May 3-14. “Big Bang Theory” actress Mayim Bialik will host May 31-June 11, followed by “Today” show anchor Savannah Guthrie June 14-25, according to the “Jeopardy!” website.