The trivia champ vowed to never return as a contestant to the beloved quiz show, according to The Washington Post.
But Harry Friedman — the longtime executive producer of “Jeopardy!” — gave Jennings a call anyway.
“He said, ‘Hey, we’ve been talking, and if you’re serious about being retired from ‘Jeopardy!,’ would you want to come aboard? Like, move to the front office?’” Jennings recently told The Washington Post. “That was nice, because I was kind of already missing the show.”
And so Jennings came back to the show in a new capacity as consulting producer, helping to present special clues and categories, among other responsibilities.
Jennings’ official debut in that new role aired Tuesday night.
During the second episode of the show’s 37th season, Jennings — who won 74 games in 2004 — presented a category about winning streaks. When the category finished, host Alex Trebek welcomed Jennings on board.
“He is now going to be a member of our ‘Jeopardy!’ team, not that he hasn’t been in the past, winning all that money and the ‘Greatest of All Time’ tournament,” Trebek said.
Below are the five clues Jennings presented (answers at the bottom):
- “After going seven and three arguing before the Supreme Court, he reeled off an amazing 22 straight wins, including the unanimously decided Brown vs. the Board of Education, and would join the court himself in 1967.”
- “This Midwesterner did have some down years in his 50-plus year investing success story, but also some pretty good streaks, including a nine-year run where shares in his company increased in value by an average of 52% a year.”
- “In the 19th century, Mischief, Vigilant and, appropriately, Defender kept this item in the hands of the U.S. for what eventually added up to 132 years and 24 defenses, including one led by Ted Turner. Yes, that Ted Turner.”
- “Twenty-eight publishers rejected the first book by this legal thriller master, but he’d have the last laugh by writing 28 consecutive No. 1 fiction bestsellers.”
- “The Persian Empire fell to him in the 330s B.C., then western Asia Minor, the Mediterranean coast, Egypt, on into India. Not bad for a guy barely over 30.”
(Answers: Thurgood Marshall; Warren Buffett; the America’s Cup; John Grisham; Alexander the Great)
Many “Jeopardy!” fans have considered Jennings to be a potential replacement for Trebek, who last year was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. As of now, Trebek’s contract with the show extends through 2022 — although the host wrote in his recent memoir that he’ll leave the show if he is unable to successfully fulfill his role.
“You can have … slip-ups in casual conversation with friends. But you can’t get away with that as the host of ‘Jeopardy!’ Whenever it gets to that point, I’ll walk away,” he wrote, according to the Deseret News. “And ‘Jeopardy!’ will be just fine. It doesn’t matter who’s the host. … I think ‘Jeopardy!’ can go on forever.”