For the first time in nearly 37 years, “Jeopardy!” is going to have a different introduction Monday night: “Here is the guest host of ‘Jeopardy!’, Ken Jennings!”

The legendary “Jeopardy!” contestant, who won 74 games in 2004 and became the “Greatest of All Time” champion last year, is moving into a new position on the show as guest host.

“Honestly, I’m with the audience. I don’t want me out here. I want to see Alex out here,” Jennings said in a brief “Jeopardy!” interview the show released Monday on social media. “I know exactly how they feel when they see anybody else behind this lectern. But there are tens of millions of people who love this show. We love this show, Alex loved the show. I’m just happy to fill in and help out.” 

Jennings — who began filming “Jeopardy!” in the studio on Nov. 30, 2020, — is the first in a series of guest hosts who have yet to be announced. A recent report from the Los Angeles Times indicates that Katie Couric will be guest hosting for a week at some point.

Last April, Jennings spoke with the Deseret News about his “Greatest of All Time” victory and shared his thoughts regarding possibly hosting “Jeopardy!” someday.

“I mean, it’s absolutely a dream job,” he said at the time. “But I really can’t even think about anybody but (Trebek) hosting the show. He’s a hero to America’s nerds. I’m not emotionally prepared for turning on the TV and seeing anybody who’s not Alex Trebek — whether it’s me or not — hosting ‘Jeopardy!’ I’m just not ready to consider that yet.”

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Now, temporarily filling in for Trebek, Jennings said that standing in the longtime host’s place has been “unimaginable.”

“Like, I still can’t believe it today that I’m filling in,” he said during the “Jeopardy!” interview. “It still seems surreal. It goes beyond nervous. It was a very intense and nerve-wracking experience to be behind this lectern.”

Jennings added that taking on this role has made him realize what an “impressive, perfect job” Trebek has done all these years.

“I thought I had studied the man and I understood just what a remarkable job he was doing, keeping the game going, mastering his sense that he understood all the clues, because he did, explaining it to the audience, and I thought I understood it all,” he said. “And then when I had to do it, I realized he was doing 10 things I wasn’t aware of for every one that I saw. It’s a very demanding job, and he was just the best.” 

Being a former “Jeopardy!” contestant, Jennings said he hopes to bring some empathy and understanding to the show in his new role as host.

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“It’s a really intense scenario, appearing on ‘Jeopardy!’ for the first time,” he said. “I hope they feel that I have a sense of solidarity with them, that I’m rooting for them, that I know how hard it is and how it feels. ... Alex was always on the contestants’ side as well, but I really know what it’s like to be behind those lecterns.” 

Back in November, after he taped his first five “Jeopardy!” episodes, Jennings called his wife, Mindy, and told her he was “obviously no Alex Trebek.” In the interview “Jeopardy!” shared Monday, Jennings recalled how his wife encouraged him to not be so hard on himself.

“She said, ‘Well, of course not, but do you think you might stand up to what he did on his first day?’” Jennings recalled. “And I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a nice way of looking at it.”

In another clip “Jeopardy!” recently shared on social media, it appears that Jennings pays tribute to Trebek at the start of Monday night’s episode. The two have a long history together, and in his memoir that came out last year, Trebek wrote that he got to know Jennings better than most “Jeopardy!” contestants. Trebek said he was even a little emotional when a question about H&R Block finally dethroned the then-30-year-old software engineer from Salt Lake City.

“I had tears in my eyes,” he wrote. “It just all happened so quickly. Ken lost. … The show ended. I remember thinking, ‘Ken’s gone. My buddy. My pal. This was getting to be “The Ken and Alex Show.”’”

“Sharing the stage with Alex Trebek was one of the greatest honors of my life,” Jennings said in a “Jeopardy!” clip that aired Sunday. “Like all ‘Jeopardy!’ fans, I miss Alex very much.”