Legendary television personality Alex Trebek hosted Jeopardy! for 37 seasons from its revival in 1984 until he passed away on November 8, 2020.
He was 80 years old and living in Los Angeles, California at the time and fought pancreatic cancer for 20 months until it eventually overtook him. Before he passed, he had a vision for who he thought would be his best successor in hosting the show.
In an interview he did, before he announced he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he said that he would like the role to go to a woman. Trebek then specifically named CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates.
According to Pop Culture, Coates said she was “as shocked as anyone else was when he first said it…and I was thrilled when he said my name. 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?”
Despite being chosen by the legend himself, Coates was told “no” by the show’s producers.
She later spoke with American broadcast journalist and television talk show host Tamron Hall, and said how she felt about not getting the chance to host Jeopardy!
Coates said she reached out to the show’s producers and “asked for the opportunity when it came time when they were looking for people to possibly fill in.” She was declined. Coates told Hall, “I certainly raised my hand and knocked on doors and found them closed. I asked for the opportunity. I was told, ‘No.'”
The program’s producers have since opted to bring on several different people to hosts the show, like LeVar Burton, Dr. Oz, and even several past Jeopardy! winners.
In August of 2021, it was announced that executive producer Mike Richards would be brought on as a permanent host. However, less than a week later, Richards announced that he would “be stepping down as host effective immediately.”
As of now, former contestant Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik, who was originally named to host Jeopardy! primetime specials have stepped up to share co-hosting duties.