Laura Coates, a CNN senior legal analyst, told Tamron Hall on Monday that she was chosen by Alex Trebek to be his replacement as the host of Jeopardy! until producers for the game show rejected her.
She pursued the opportunity to host following Trebek’s death. But she claims producers rejected her bid to host, despite Trebek’s recommendations. He hosted the game show for 37 seasons from 1984 until his death in 2020.
Back in 2018, Trebek gave an interview with TMZ where he named two people to replace him – Los Angeles Kings hockey announcer Alex Faust and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates. Though the two had never met in person, he said that he believed she would make a good fit.
At the time, Coates said that she was “shocked” and “flattered,” calling herself “a lifelong fan of Jeopardy!“
“I was honored by it and I had a chance to thank him and also to reach out to him while he struggled with pancreatic cancer,” Coates, 41, revealed.
“I asked for the opportunity when it came time, when they were looking for people to possibly fill in. I certainly raised my hand and knocked on doors and found them closed,” she claimed. “I was told ‘no.'”
It is unknown if Trebek’s other pick, Alex Faust, was ever interviewed for the role, but neither went into rotation after the show continued n with guest hosts following Alex Trebek’s passing.
Stating that she didn’t understand why she was snubbed, Laura Coates used the incident as a teaching moment in the face of adversity.
“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,” she stated. Sometimes, “you have to remember to wear your own jersey.”
A spokesman from Jeopardy! broadcaster Sony Pictures has yet to comment on why the network did not pursue Coates as an option.
Following weekly guest hosts including LeVar Burton, George Stephanopoulos, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, and Savannah Guthrie, Jeopardy! decided to move forward with executive producer Mike Richards as the future host back in August.
An unknown face and name, Richards was a controversial pick, especially since he was an executive producer chosen over stars who fans wanted as host.
The controversy escalated even further when Mike Richards was forced to step down just three weeks later after it was uncovered that the executive producer made sexist, racist, and antisemitic comments on an old podcast that he hosted.
“I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role,” Richards stated as he stepped down. “However, over the last several days it has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show.”
Due to backlash, Mike Richards was then fired by Sony Pictures from his gig as executive producer for Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, after fans were angry that he was allegedly going to keep his executive job.
“We had hoped that when Mike stepped down from the host position at ‘Jeopardy!’ it would have minimized the disruption and internal difficulties we have all experienced these last few weeks,” a spokesman wrote in a September 2021 staff memo. “That clearly has not happened.”
Since the controversy, actress Mayim Bialik and former Jeopardy! winner Ken Jennings have split the hosting duties.