‘I had to jump at the chance’: Savannah Guthrie opens up about hosting ‘Jeopardy!’
Of all the things she’s done in her career, this is what her friends and family just can’t seem to stop talking about
Savannah Guthrie has covered a lot in her 10 years with the “Today” show — everything from presidential elections to breaking news to the Olympics to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Now, Guthrie is taking on a new role as “Jeopardy!” host — the 10th person to fill in since Alex Trebek’s death in November 2020, the Deseret News reported. And of all the things she’s done in her career, this is what her friends and family just can’t seem to stop talking about.
“Honestly, hosting ‘Jeopardy!’ is the thing I think people are most excited about, and I am, too,” Guthrie said in a recent interview with “Jeopardy!” producers. “I know I could never be a contestant because I’m not very good at trivia, so this was the closest I was ever going to get to the ‘Jeopardy!’ stage. So I had to jump at the chance.”
Guthrie has been vocal about not wanting to be Trebek’s official replacement — she recently told USA Today she would “never leave” the “Today” show, and that her two-week run as host was a “one-time opportunity.” But even though her stint wasn’t a trial run for the permanent gig, she said was still nervous to stand in Trebek’s place all the same.
“It’s a really hard job, and getting here did not make me any less nervous,” she told “Jeopardy!” producers. “The more I knew about what was required, the more nervous I was.”
For Guthrie, the most challenging aspect of hosting “Jeopardy!” was the fast-paced nature of the game.
“It’s not live, but the game portion of it is essentially (so that) there are no do-overs,” she told USA Today. “You have to keep the game going — it goes really fast. And I knew that if I flubbed, if I accidentally blurted out an answer, or didn’t read the clue quite correctly, I could mess up the whole game. And there are contestants who have been waiting their whole lives to be there. So I felt like, ‘All right, there’s really no room for error.’”
To prepare for the role, Guthrie watched a lot of Trebek footage and said she did her best to bring the care and work ethic the late host brought to the role for 36 years.
“I really admire how much excellence he brought to it. Even though he did it decade after decade after decade, it seems to me he never slacked off, it never got easy for him,” she told “Jeopardy!” producers. “He always brought his A-game, and that’s the spirit I was trying to emulate.”
During Guthrie’s time as host, which runs June 14-25, “Jeopardy!” is matching the winnings of the contestants and donating to the “Today” show anchor’s charity of choice, The Bowery Mission. Guthrie said the organization has been around since the 1870s and serves people in New York struggling with homelessness and hunger.
“It’s about sharing God’s love,” she told “Jeopardy!” producers. “It’s on a mission. It is feeding the hungry. It’s about helping the poor, people who are in their lowest moments.”
Since Trebek’s death, the “Jeopardy!” discussion has centered on the many people who have stepped up to host the beloved quiz show. But ahead of her “Jeopardy!” hosting debut Monday night, Guthrie reiterated one of Trebek’s biggest beliefs regarding the show: The contestants are the true stars.
“This is their moment,” Guthrie told “Jeopardy!” producers. “This show is about them. It’s not about the host — it’s about the game. And so I really tried to keep my focus there, and show them a lot of love and enthusiasm and cheer for them when they won.”