Ken Jennings makes $1 million each year hosting Jeopardy. While this is nothing to scoff at, it still pales in comparison to what the former host of the show, Alex Trebek, earned. The Canadian-American Trebek hosted Jeopardy for 36 years, starting from 1984 to 2020, and made the show his own. His salary was, therefore, progressively increased, and by 2019, he was earning $10 million per season.
Trebek remained on the show until his demise in 2020, and Jennings is one of those who have stepped in to host the show. The hunt is now on for a permanent host, and if he (Jennings) is able to snag that job, he will be assured improved pay.
How Much is Ken Jennings’ Pay Per Episode of Jeopardy?
Ken Jennings makes about $3,400 per episode of Jeopardy. News reports have it that he and his co-host Maryam Bialik are paid roughly $1 million each for each season of Jeopardy they host. Each season of the popular quiz show, which requires the contestants to provide questions to answers, has about 280 episodes, and thus, when we crunch the numbers, it means that Ken Jennings earns $3,400 for each episode of Jeopardy that he hosts.
This is a far cry from what the last host of the show, Alex Trebek, earned. In 2019, the late Trebek took home $10 million per annum for his work, which translated into $34,000 for each episode. It is quite possible that the figure even increased during his last season on the show, i.e., 2020.
Of course, Ken Jennings and his co-host Maryam Bialik are well aware of this fact, and reports in April 2023 had it that they had been making demands on the production network to increase their salary as they think what they currently earn is not fair when placed in comparison to Trebek’s.
Their efforts have thus far proved unsuccessful, but whichever one of them is able to land the job on a permanent basis will certainly expect a bump in pay. Of course, this will become a moot point if neither of them ends up getting the permanent hosting gig.
When Did Ken Jennings Start Hosting Jeopardy?
Ken Jennings started hosting Jeopardy in November 2020, the same month that Alex Trebek passed away as a result of complications related to pancreatic cancer. Trebek had been fighting cancer since 2016 and had managed to film Jeopardy as well. However, by November 2020, he took some time off for treatment and recovery, and Jennings was drafted in to cover for him temporarily.
Trebek never recovered, though, and Jennings continued in his stead. The first episode of Jeopardy that Ken Jennings taped was on November 23, 2020, and it was aired on January 11, 2021. Following that turn, a revolving door of guest hosts was introduced for Jeopardy before Jennings and Maryam Bialik became regular co-hosts in September 2021. In addition to Jeopardy, Jennings has also hosted Jeopardy Masters and Celebrity Jeopardy.
Is Ken Jennings the Permanent Host of Jeopardy?
Ken Jennings is not the permanent host of Jeopardy yet, as the producers have not designated any permanent host for the show. It is however reasonable to believe that he and co-host Maryam Bialik are in the running for who will take over as the permanent host of Jeopardy. Since they took over in September 2021, they have regularly hosted the show and garnered much experience.
They have also proven popular with fans and even received accolades. For instance, Ken Jennings was nominated for outstanding host for a game show at the 2023 Primetime Emmy Awards. Given all this, it will be foolhardy for the producers of the show to go outside these two when appointing a permanent host.
There have been news reports that Maryam Bialik is gunning for the permanent host job of Jeopardy by sucking up to both the big bosses and even the lowliest of production staff. However, only time will tell what will happen. Public opinion, however, seems to favor Jennings. Some people have criticized Maryam’s hosting technique on Twitter and advocated for Jennings to get the job on a permanent basis.
Ironically, after Alex Trebek passed, the producers of Jeopardy immediately considered Jennings as a permanent host, given his wonderful record on the show. However, they had to drop the plan reportedly due to some controversial past tweets from Jennings.
They were tweets mocking Barron Trump’s agonized reaction to seeing comedian Kathy Griffin holding up a fake severed bloodied head of his father, Donald Trump.
There was also a Tweet making derogatory remarks about disabled people (nothing sadder than seeing a hot person in a wheelchair). The apology Jennings offered back then was simply insufficient; however, public anger at him has dissipated over time. Therefore, Ken Jennings is firmly in the race to take over as the permanent host of Jeopardy.
What Did Ken Jennings Do Before Jeopardy?
Ken Jennings was a software engineer before Jeopardy. The Seattle native who grew up in countries such as Korea and Singapore is your typical geek and nerd, and this prepared him for his lifelong relationship with Jeopardy. While at college, specifically Brigham University, he double majored in English and computer science. He also captained the school’s quiz team and went on to lead them to success.
Ken Jennings graduated college in 2000 and spent time working for a company that organizes nationwide quiz competitions for high schools and colleges. He then found work as a software engineer for a healthcare staffing company.
Having noticed some of his pals entering into game shows and winning enough money to pay off debts, including student loans, Jennings decided to audition for Jeopardy. His audition was a success, and he went on to have a record-breaking 74-episode streak on the show, during which he won $2.52 million. This instantly made him famous, and he was invited to late-night shows. He also scored endorsement deals.
Ken Jennings utilized that fame to write books and launch a podcast. He also came back to contest against other record-breakers in Jeopardy history, such as James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter. This made him an integral part of the Jeopardy fabric, and in September 2020, he was formally made a consultant on the show.
It was from this position that he was bumped up to fill in for the ailing Alex Trebek before he landed the regular co-host gig that he has now. It goes without saying that Jeopardy has defined Ken Jennings’ life perhaps to the same extent that he has impacted the show.