Those Ken Jennings Tweets Reportedly Cost Him The Jeopardy Job, Leading To Mike Richards Fiasco

Jeopardy! has had a rollercoaster of a year, as the iconic game show has sought to find a new host to replace the late, great Alex Trebek. In doing so, numerous celebrities were brought on as guest hosts, which culminated in executive producer Mike Richards being tapped for the job. However, Richards was soon forced to step down after a wave of controversy. But as it turns out, the fiasco was nearly avoided, as former champ Ken Jennings was apparently being eyed for the job -- that is until some controversial tweets cost him the job.

At the beginning of this year, Ken Jennings became the first person to serve as guest host following Alex Trebek’s passing. He was ultimately well-received by viewers and, according to The Wall Street Journal (via Woman’s Day), the show’s producers had essentially agreed on hiring Jennings for the job, despite the fact that he was light on hosting experience. Though ahead of his hosting debut, the aforementioned tweets began to resurface. Many of the posts saw Jennings making inappropriate jokes about certain incidents and, in one of the most publicized messages, he made a disparaging remark regarding people in wheelchairs.

The former Jeopardy! champ ultimately apologized for the posts, admitting that in the past, he had tweeted “some unartful and insensitive things.” But according to WSJ, the execs at Sony Pictures Entertainment were not comfortable moving forward with him as the new permanent host due to the backlash from the tweets.

Even ahead of the tweets coming back into the public eye, some seem unenthused about the prospect of Ken Jennings hosting the game show. The TV personality even provided a response to one commentator on the web.

His tenure on the series did come with a few memorable moments, including an incredibly rare ending to one game of Jeopardy!. The host even found himself getting trolled hard as the result of a contestant’s hilarious answer during Final Jeopardy!. And believe it or not, a toddler also seemed to cry when learning that his hosting stint had reached its end.

Sony’s decision not to move forward with Ken Jennings as host is understandable, given the circumstances. It’s also quite similar to the studio’s approach to the Mike Richards situation, which elicited even more controversy. While Richards was criticized for past comments, many also made note of the fact that he was embroiled in a work-related lawsuit. And apparently, it was the strength of this backlash that led to Sony severing ties with him entirely, after he had already stepped down as the new host.

Mayim Bialik, who was tapped to host Jeopardy!’s primetime and spinoff series on a part-time basis, is currently set to host the main show for three weeks following Mike Richards’ firing. The show has yet to make any indication as to when it might find a permanent person for the job. Yet it’s probably a safe bet that fans are going to continue to campaign for their favorites, particularly Reading Rainbow and Star Trek's LeVar Burton.

Jeopardy! returns for Season 38 on Monday, September 13, in syndication.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.