Current Jeopardy Champion Has Strong Opinion In The Ken Jennings Vs. Mayim Bialik Hosting Debate

The embattled search to replace Alex Trebek as the host of Jeopardy! was seemingly finalized prior to the quiz show’s current season, when the position that Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik had been sharing on an interim basis became permanently theirs to share. However, it seems like fans and contestants alike lack feelings of closure on the issue, as opinions continue to be voiced about which host is prefer. Current Jeopardy! champion Jake DeArruda was among those with a strong opinion, and he seemed to have no qualms about explaining why he’s happy Jennings has been hosting the episodes he's won on.

Jake DeArruda, a delivery dispatcher from Ludlow, Vermont, had accumulated a two-day total of $47,994 heading into the January 31 game. In a series of blog posts about his experience on Jeopardy!, the ongoing champ said he watched episodes that Mayim Bialik hosted in order to prepare for his appearance, candidly describing the apparent mistakes Mayim Bialik makes in her delivery of the clues. The champion wrote (per TV Insider): 

It’s obvious to close watchers that she mispronounces words, blows through punctuation, and is genuinely inconsistent in her pacing. Ken, meanwhile, has been in trivia for most of his life, so he knows the proper words to emphasize and generally seems consistent with his pacing. This is important for buzzer timing purposes.

Jake DeArruda said he practiced with Mayim Bialik-hosted episodes in order to learn her cadence so he could be quick on the buzzer. It ended up being for naught (at least so far), as he revealed that: 

Everyone collectively cheered when Ken Jennings was announced as our host for the tape week.

While the current champion appeared to have an issue with Mayim Bialik’s pronunciation and recitation of the clues, he’s not alone in his favoritism for one of the biggest winners in Jeopardy!’s history. Former super-champ Mattea Roach said that while “Mayim is fantastic,” the actress doesn’t have the same history with the game, and there’s just something special about sharing the stage with the Jeopardy! GOAT — even if he doesn’t talk much to the contestants

Jake DeArruda on Jeopardy!

(Image credit: Jeopardy!)

Another super-champ, Arthur Chu, has also shared some not-so-positive thoughts about Mayim Bialik, as well as pointing out that Ken Jennings seemed to be who Alex Trebek wanted to succeed him. The Call Me Kat actress has even joked that she agrees with the people in Jennings' corner, saying that she likes him “much better than I like myself.”

Mayim Bialik was supposed to take the reins from Ken Jennings at the start of the new year, but Jeopardy! producer Sarah Whitcomb Foss explained on the Inside Jeopardy! podcast that the actress’ Call Me Kat filming schedule had “evolved,” so we will see her return later than expected.

Jake DeArruda’s comments about the ongoing hosting debate come after recent champion Yogesh Raut went on an epic rant that diminished the quiz show’s relevance, prompting veteran James Holzhauer to call for a “lifetime ban” for those who criticize the show. We’ll have to see if the current champ’s comments lead to any similar response from the viewing audience. In the meantime, check your local listings to see when Jeopardy! plays in your area, and take a look at our 2023 TV schedule to see what series are premiering soon. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.