Alex Trebek had a pretty good idea of whom he wanted to succeed him as the host of Jeopardy!, but that option was not treated seriously by the show’s producers. Attorney and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates, who hosts The Laura Coates Show on SiriusXM, caught the attention of Trebek before the longtime Jeopardy! host’s passing in 2020. In 2018, Trebek had personally named Coates as one of his picks for who could be the next host of the show after he was gone.
“There is an attorney, Laura Coates. She’s African American and she appears on some of the cable news shows from time to time. Very bright, very personable,” Trebek told TMZ. He mentioned Coates’ name again in 2019 as a good candidate alongside Los Angeles Kings announcer Alex Faust and TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz, but Trebek also predicted that the next host was “probably going to be a woman.”
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“I actually was as shocked as anyone else was when he first said it … and I was thrilled when he said my name,” Coates now says of Trebek’s endorsement in a new interview with Tamron Hall. “I thought, ‘My God. This person that I have watched my whole life really, even knows my name let alone thinks that I would be worthy enough to fill his shoes which frankly can’t be filled?’ And I was honored by that and had a chance to thank him.”
After Trebek’s death, a series of guests hosts were brought in to temporarily fill in until a permanent replacement could be picked. With Trebek’s endorsement in hand, Coates volunteered to serve as one of the guest hosts. As she explains, this offer wasn’t welcomed by the Jeopardy! team, and Coates was not able to join the other celebrities hired for the gig like Katie Couric, Anderson Cooper, George Stephanopoulos, and Bill Whitaker.
“I asked for the opportunity when it came time, when they were looking for people to possibly fill in,” Coates says. “I certainly raised my hand and knocked on doors and found them closed. And I asked for the opportunity. I was told ‘no.’ Which is one of those moments where you have to remember to wear your own jersey. You have to remember to continue to be your own champion in other respects and sometimes the vision that you have for yourself, or those that surprise you — other people — don’t align with what happens and that happened there.”
Looking back at the situation with humor, Coates added: “I tell you, with the work I do now, do you know how much easier my life would be if I had the answers in advance?”
A Permanent Jeopardy! Host Still Hasn’t Been Officially Named
The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik and famous contestant Ken Jennings also served as two of the guest hosts. They now are filling in as the only two hosts of the show on a revolving basis for the foreseeable future. A permanent host has not been officially announced following what happened with executive producer Mike Richards.
After the series of guest hosts did their part, Richards had announced that he’d be personally stepping in as the next permanent host of Jeopardy!. This was met with swift backlash before Richards stepped down from the job and was fired as producer. Bialik has said she’s up for taking the job permanently, but perhaps the remaining producers are looking to really take their time before going with another official announcement.
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Jeremy Dick has been a writer and editor since 2014. He is a self-professed horror expert, pop culture enthusiast, and Bob Saget fanatic.
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