What If Jeopardy Promoted From Within?
Part 2: Some Former Champions Who Could Be Good Hosts
After some genuine thinking, I’ve decided to narrow my choices for the Jeopardy Champions who, I believe, are the most qualified to take over the job permanently. There are a fair number of contenders, so I’ve decided to narrow the choice to the two best from each calendar decade in the series run. Again, I’m not necessarily saying they’ll want the job (given the opportunity to host the show or compete on it, I think quite a few would prefer the latter; there’s less work and more money involved). But I honestly think they would be exceptional at it. It’s not like they don’t know the series after all.
Frank Spangenberg: Original Appearance 1990. Ser five game record for most won — $102,597 — that stood for more than thirteen years. To date, has appeared in more Jeopardy tournaments than any player in history — 1990 Tournament of Champions, Super Jeopardy 1990, 10th Anniversary Tournament 1993 (Winner) Million Dollar Masters 2002 (participant) Ultimate Tournament of Champions 2005 (semi-finalist) Battle of the Decades 2014 (1980s Participant.)
Why He’s Qualified: He certainly has the resume for it. In addition to his long career with Jeopardy, he’s also one of the most distinctively looking contestant ever to play to game — he’s very tall and has a walrus like mustache that would not be out of place on a 19th Century Policeman. (He is a policeman with the NYPD.) He’s also continued to have a good history with many contestants (he tutored Cindy Stowell, a six day champion in 2016) and has a marvelous sense of humor, mostly self-deprecating. The major drawback is, Frank is a bit on the old side (he’s in his mid-sixties) but perhaps he’d like to consider this a better retirement package for him — working in the game he loved.
Jerome Vered: Original Appearance 1992. Broke Frank Spangenberg’s one day record with new total of $34,000 — a figure unmatched until two years after the dollar figures were doubled in 2001. Finalist in the Ultimate Tournament of Champions and first contestant to go head to head with both Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Also Final in 1992 Tournament of Champions and Participant in Battle of the Decades The 1980s.
Why He Is Qualified: Jerome’s qualifications are not as obvious as Frank’s, but he has a similar connection with the series early days and arguably the series two greatest players. He has an impish sense of humor that fits the show very well, and he always been a little more showman like (during Final Jeopardy, I remember him moving in time with the ‘think music’) He has an engaging and charming personality that was frequently present in the stories he would tell when he was invited back, and he’s often been friendly even to his fellow competitors (which including Frank on one occasion.) Besides, Ken and Brad have both hosted game shows before. I think it’s far to offer it to someone whose played against them.
Pam Mueller: Original Appearance 2000. (College Tournament Winner) Additional Appearances: 2001 Tournament of Champions (Semi-Finalist) Ultimate Tournament of Champions (Semi-Finalist. Her total of $102,201 was the fifth highest total out of a field of 145.) Battle of the Decades: The 1990s Participant. (Semi-Finalist). Jeopardy All-Star Tournament: Member of Team Colby, which finished in the Finals)
Why She Is Qualified: Over the past twenty years, there are few competitors who’ve appeared in more tournaments more successfully than Pam. She’s competed against some of the all time greats, including eight Tournament of Champions winners and has been their equal — and in quite a few cases, their superior. She’s always been a lot of fun in her interviews and always seems completely unbowed by the pressure of these tournaments. There’s also the added bonus that she’s young — she hasn’t even turned forty yet. So if the show wanted to go for a host who could go for ten or twenty years, Pam would be more than up to the challenge. Of course, that last fact might be the biggest argument against her becoming a host — there might be two or three more tournaments in her future.
Brad Rutter: The single highest money winner in game show history. Original appearance: 2001.Has won (deep breath) 2001 Tournament of Champions, Million Dollar Masters, Ultimate Tournament of Champions, Battle of the Decades, Jeopardy All-Star Tournament (as captain of Team Brad.) Until the Greatest of All Time Tournament in 2020, Brad was the only player in Jeopardy history to have never lost a game… well, to a human.
Why He is Qualified: If anything, Brad is overqualified for this position. He’s already hosted a game show in Pennsylvania, he played a game show host in a TV pilot that never went to series and he’s been playing a variation on it in this year’s The Chase. It’s safe that he may know more about Jeopardy that all but a very few contestants. He’s never been as charming as some of the other players, but he’s always had a great sense of humor about his winnings, his position in the show’s history and his relationship with Ken Jennings. And as good as he is, he always seems a little overwhelmed when he managed to pull out a victory and incredibly gracious to all of the contestants he often manages to thrash. In all honesty, I’m kind of surprised that when it came to ask former contestants to guest host, they didn’t go to Brad first. But as Brad himself said on one occasion about this: “Story of my life!!
I’ll be back tomorrow with my group from the past eighteen years.