Ken Jennings says Mayim Bialik’s “Jeopardy” exit took him ‘off guard’

“I loved working with my Mayim and I’m gonna miss her,” the host says.

Ken Jennings was not prepared for his Jeopardy cohost Mayim Bialik to exit the show.

On Dec. 15, Bialik announced that she would no longer be hosting the long-running game show, and Jennings would take over as host full-time. And in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Jennings says Bialik’s exit took him “off guard.”

<p>Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty Images</p> Ken Jennings

Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty Images

Ken Jennings

“I loved working with my Mayim and I’m gonna miss her,” Jennings told the outlet. “I can’t speak to her decision-making process or her opinions about it. But on my end, I’m just a fan of Jeopardy and I’m always delighted to host when they call upon me. I just feel extremely lucky to have even been considered for this job as a non-broadcaster.”

Jennings went on to say that “it’s kind of a weird thing to try to bring back an ex-contestant to host,” but he’s “been learning” as he goes.

“But I loved growing up with Jeopardy where Alex [Trebek] was the host of that show for almost 38 years, and people just kind of felt like he was part of their family, and it’s impossible to fill those shoes,” he says. “But it’s such an honor and and hopefully I look forward to 37 more years of doing it, when I’ll be a very, very old man.”

After longtime Jeopardy host Trebek’s death in 2020, Jennings — who holds the title as the most successful contestant of the show — was the first person to take over the role. He was then named permanent co-host last year alongside Bialik, until she announced her exit earlier this month.

“As the holiday break begins in Hollywood, I have some Jeopardy news,” Bialik said in a statement posted to social media. “Sony has informed me that I will no longer be hosting the syndicated version of Jeopardy.” She added that she was “incredibly honored to have been nominated for a primetime Emmy for hosting this year” and “deeply grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the Jeopardy family.”

A Sony spokesperson confirmed the news to EW but held out hope that Bialik could return for prime-time specials. “We made the decision to have one host for the syndicated show next season to maintain continuity for our viewers, and Ken Jennings will be the sole host for syndicated Jeopardy,” the spokesperson said. “We are truly grateful for all of Mayim’s contributions to Jeopardy, and we hope to continue to work with her on primetime specials.”

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