Why Katie Couric isn’t hosting ‘Jeopardy!’



Katie Couric is not the final answer to “Jeopardy’s” search for a permanent host.

The 64-year-old journalist stepped in to guest host the long-running game show after the death of beloved icon Alex Trebek in November. She was the first woman to host the show, and helped bring in more than $230,000 for cancer research during her stint in the fund-raising role. The two-week slots are rotating through a cast of public figures, from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to, more controversially, Dr. Oz.

But when it comes to taking the job full time? Couric’s answer is, without a question, no.

“It was a really fun thing to do,” the media mogul told Poynter. “[But] I love what I’m doing now. I have tremendous flexibility.”

However the two-week hosting gig, which she completed two weeks ago, gave her new respect for the rigor of the game show, she said.

Couric, 64.
Couric, 64.
Getty Images

“It’s pretty exhausting to do five of those in one day — just to make sure you’re pronouncing everything correctly,” she said. “They give you these complicated Latin terms. My daughters would’ve really crushed it, but I don’t really speak Latin … I’ve always marveled at the contestants. But this really made me appreciate and respect the contestants more than I already did.”

The pressure was on, too. When producers handed her the clues, it felt like receiving the “nuclear code,” she said. “I basically had to promise my life savings if I divulged any of the clues to anyone. They were really serious about it.”

It also helped her appreciate the legacy Trebek left behind. The host of 36 years died after a battle with pancreatic cancer, but continued to host the show through painful treatment and decline.

“‘Jeopardy!’ is not really a game show,” Couric said. “It doesn’t feel right to call it a game show. It is an American institution.”

Couric, who’s also working on a memoir, “Unexpected,” due out in October, stepped down as longtime “Today” co-host in 2006 — leaving behind a legacy of her own. Since then, she’s launched a media company, Katie Couric Media, and produces a newsletter and podcast.

Her guest hosting slot went off without a hitch. But the same can’t quite be said for Oz, who is set to host from March 22 through April 2.

The medical correspondent has drawn the ire of former contestants of the show, who banded together to sign a petition asking that he be removed from the roster.

In an open letter published on Medium.com last month, the consortium of former “Jeopardy!” winners and contestants urged the show to rethink the decision, alleging that casting the “dubious” doc in the role would celebrate “the elevation of … talking head[s] at the expense of academic rigor and consensus.”

“When we heard that Dr. Mehmet Oz was slated to be a guest host, agreement came quickly — we were opposed,” they began in their letter, published Feb. 24. “Dr. Oz stands in opposition to everything that Jeopardy! stands for.”

Reps for Oz have not responded to The Post’s requests for comment.


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