‘Of course I was nervous, are you kidding me?’: Katie Couric opens up about hosting ‘Jeopardy!’
‘Jeopardy!’ has long been a regular part of Katie Couric’s life, but the way she watched the quiz show changed when she agreed to be a guest host
Katie Couric has watched “Jeopardy!” — a lot.
It was something she and her late husband, Jay Monahan, enjoyed together — even if he did come up with the right responses more often than she did.
“It would make me so mad,” Couric said in an interview “Jeopardy!” released on Sunday. “At the same time, I thought it was so hot.”
“Jeopardy!” has long been a regular part of Couric’s life, but the way she watched the quiz show changed when she agreed to be a guest host.
“I started watching it religiously,” said Couric, adding that she spent a lot of time watching how Alex Trebek moved from category to category, and how he phrased clues or interacted with the contestants.
“I loved the show, I loved Alex Trebek and I was so inspired by him — especially by his courage toward the end of his life,” Couric said. “And it’s just such an American institution, and the opportunity to play a small part in the continuation of the show was something I just didn’t want to pass up.”
Couric will serve as the first female guest host of “Jeopardy!” from March 8 to March 19. Her upcoming stint comes after “Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time” champion Ken Jennings hosted for six weeks and “Jeopardy!” Executive Producer Mike Richards wrapped up two weeks of hosting on March 5, the Deseret News reported.
As the first person to fill in after Trebek’s death in November 2020, Jennings has said he was “beyond nervous” to stand behind the “Jeopardy!” hosting lectern.
Couric feels exactly the same way.
“Of course I was nervous, are you kidding me?” she said during her “Jeopardy!” interview, adding that the staff did a good job of helping her to feel more relaxed and at home. “The last thing I wanted to do was come here and mess it up and embarrass the show, embarrass the people behind the scenes, and they just wouldn’t let me, which I was so grateful for.”
We’re celebrating #InternationalWomensDay with our guest host @KatieCouric. pic.twitter.com/OvHPRPSgGh— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) March 8, 2021
Couric’s “Jeopardy!” debut falls on International Women’s Day. The journalist said she hopes that her time as guest host will help inspire women to embrace learning and gaining knowledge and send a message to girls that “it’s cool to be smart.”
“To be the first woman on a show that stands for excellence and intelligence and integrity is a real honor for me,” Couric said. “I think for a while girls would get to a certain age and they would sort of hold back because they didn’t want to be seen as too aggressive or pushy or smarter than the boys.
“But I think society has really changed and we’re championing and celebrating smart girls and women,” she continued. “Be a sponge, be a lifelong learner and be proud of your intelligence and your knowledge. It’s such a gift, and share it with the world.”
During her time on “Jeopardy!” Couric said she will make a donation to Stand Up To Cancer, an organization she founded in 2008. It’s a personal cause as her late husband, Monahan, died from colon cancer at the age of 42, and her older sister, Emily, died from pancreatic cancer — the same disease that took Trebek’s life.
Tune in tonight! 😊A privilege to honor the extraordinary Alex Trebek. Oh and happy #InternationalWomensDay @Jeopardy pic.twitter.com/zoluHwyYMM— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) March 8, 2021
Couric’s donation will equal the cumulative winnings of the contestants during the games she hosts and will be donated to pancreatic cancer research, according to a news release sent to the Deseret News.
Following Couric, Dr. Mehmet Oz will guest host “Jeopardy!” from March 22 to April 2. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will then guest host for two weeks starting on April 5, the Deseret News previously reported.
Other guest hosts include Anderson Cooper, “Today” host Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta — chief medical correspondent for CNN — “Big Bang Theory” actress Mayim Bialik and “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker, according to the Deseret News.