Ken Jennings best choice to replace Trebek

Adam Graham - The Detroit News

Ken Jennings was the greatest “Jeopardy!” champion of all time.

Ken Jennings was the greatest “Jeopardy!” champion of all time.

This ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant should replace Alex Trebek. Who is Ken Jennings?

Alex Trebek was more than a host, more than game show royalty. He commanded respect in a way the Wink Martindales and Pat Sajaks of the world do not. Similarly, “Jeopardy!” is a cut above other game shows; it’s a show that demands, and rewards, intelligence, and Trebek was its North Star.

People are now speculating on who should replace Trebek, who died this month at age 80

Because of Trebek’s legacy — 37 seasons as host, seven Daytime Emmy wins for Outstanding Game Show Host, and an air of dignity rarely afforded to game show personalities — not just anyone can fill his shoes. Bob Barker left an indelible impression as host of “The Price is Right,” but anyone can give away cars, and Drew Carey has done a fine job in his role.

There’s only one person that makes sense to replace Trebek and that’s Jennings. Jennings is not only the all-time “Jeopardy!” champ, he’s the winningest contestant in American game show history, his 74 wins on the show and various other appearances netting him more than $4.5 million in prize money.

Additionally, Jennings has proven to have a sharp sense of humor and a lacerating wit, and he’s quick with a clapback on Twitter. But most importantly, he earned the respect of Trebek. “Jeopardy!” isn’t a gig that can be given to anyone, it feels like it should be earned, and when Jennings won this year’s “Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time” tournament back in January, it felt like a passing of the torch of sorts. Everyone knew of Trebek’s condition, and Jennings’ triumph — besting the robotic James Holzhauer and the “who?” of the bunch, Brad Rutter — was like a coronation for Jennings. Trebek probably would have made the declaration himself before his passing, but he was too classy, and Jennings wouldn’t have wanted to be associated with a scenario where it seemed like he was angling for Trebek’s job.

No official announcement has been made on Trebek’s replacement, of course, and Jennings has yet to comment. But it’s gotta be him. In the world of “Jeopardy!” where so much is placed on smarts, this one’s a no-brainer.

Ken Jennings was the greatest “Jeopardy!” champion of all time. Jennings was the greatest “Jeopardy!” champion of all time.

Adam Graham

The Detroit News

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