The Best (& Worst) Jeopardy! Celebrity Guest Host Show Moments So Far
Several stars, including Katie Couric, Aaron Rodgers and Anderson Cooper, were asked to fill in as Jeopardy! guest hosts in 2021. From record ratings to #BoycottJeopardy, here's how it's all going down
Katie Couric: Making History
Following the death of beloved host Alex Trebek, Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings stepped in as the first guest host for six weeks, followed by Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards. The show then announced that several celebrities would join to guest host, starting with veteran journalist Katie Couric.
Couric took on her duties from March 8 to 19, making her the first female guest to ever host the show.
"I love that I'm the first woman!" Couric told PEOPLE in March. "They framed a little thing for me after I was on. It says, 'What iconic journalist and Stand Up to Cancer founder is the first female guest host of Jeopardy!?' And then it says, 'Who is Katie Couric?' "
During her time as host, the contestants' cumulative winnings went to Stand Up to Cancer, an organization Couric co-founded in 2008 that "funds and develops the newest and most promising cancer treatments to help patients today," according to its website. Couric's first husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer in 1998.
Dr. Mehmet Oz: Spurring #BoycottJeopardy
Dr. Mehmet Oz hosted from March 22 to April 2, but fans and former contestants were not happy about it. After the casting was announced, a group of former contestants published a letter on Medium to say that Oz's casting stood "in opposition to everything Jeopardy! stands for" and would celebrate "talking head[s] at the expense of academic rigor and consensus." (A rep for Oz did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment.)
The letter called into question several of Oz's past medical opinions, which he has shared on his own program, The Dr. Oz Show. The backlash, however, was not enough to keep him from his duties.
Oz began his gig with a tribute to Trebek, while fans took to social media to say they were going to #BoycottJeopardy. (The show did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment.)
"Our family are loyal jeopardy fans HOWEVER, we will #BoycottJeopardy while Dr. Oz is the guest host," a fan wrote.
Another quipped, "what is a horrible mistake."
Aaron Rodgers: Seeing a Ratings Spike
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers called his time on the show an "honor of a lifetime." He was on from April 5 to 16, and fiancée Shailene Woodley rooted for her soon-to-be husband while watching from home.
Rodgers also brought in a 14 percent ratings boost, and had the best ratings performance in a month, following Dr. Oz and Katie Couric's episodes.
Anderson Cooper: Man with the Cutest Fan
CNN anchor and two-time Celebrity Jeopardy! champion Anderson Cooper had a special little fan watch him for a segment during his hosting duties from April 19 to 30. Anderson posted a photo on Instagram of his son Wyatt, 1, sitting on a bed, looking at his dad on the TV screen intently.
"Wyatt has never watched tv before, and he wont again for a long time, but apparently he caught a bit of me on @Jeopardy!" Cooper captioned the photo.
"It was a dream come true to be guest hosting, and to pay tribute to #AlexTrebek and raise money for @hashaiti."
During his time, Cooper raised $118,000 for Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti, an organization that helps residents of Haiti's Artibonite Valley get the medical care they need.
Bill Whitaker: A 'Pinch Myself' Moment
60 Minutes' Bill Whitaker described his experience as "quite surreal," during an interview with The Washington Post. He also said that there were a "couple of times I had to pinch myself to say, 'Oh my gosh! Look where I am. This is crazy'. It looks just like it looks on television," before revealing a few behind-the-scenes tidbits.
"I work in television news, which is a totally different animal," he told the outlet. "I'm used to talking to one camera."
"Here, you had, I think, four cameras - one swoops in from the side, you talk to that one at the end of one commercial, and then swoops to another one you have to talk to after a commercial, and then the contestants are over on the other side," he added. "The thing that I was most surprised about was just how fast-paced it is."
Mayim Bialik: An Ode to Academia
Actress Mayim Bialik, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA, said it was an "immense honor" to host from May 31 to June 11. "Especially for someone who's dedicated so much of my life to academia to knowing things and to being able to communicate things," she added.
"Being a woman of science, as I am, is something that I'm obviously very passionate about presenting myself as," she explained. "I really didn't grow up with a lot of female role models and I think especially for young people - not just young girls, but for young girls and boys - to see that women can be scientists and can do these types of intellectual things, that feels very important to me."
Savannah Guthrie: 'Relieved Anchors, for 1,000'
In order to prepare for her guest spot, the Today anchor revealed on her show that she "watched a lot of Jeopardy!" and "made little notes and practiced my pronunciation" to make sure she nailed her duties before her episodes start to air on June 14 through the 25th.
Guthrie's whirlwind experience included taping 10 episodes with 10 outfit changes in just two days.
"I'll take 'Relieved Anchors,' for 1,000," she joked to Today after taping her first episode. "The first game is done, only nine more to go. They haven't kicked me out yet."
Who Is ... the Next Host?
More exciting guests hosts are slated in the weeks ahead, including CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta (June 28 to July 9), Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos (July 12 to 16), GMA's Robin Roberts (July 19 to 23), actor LeVar Burton (July 26 to 30), CNBC's David Faber (Aug. 2 to 6) and sportscaster Joe Buck (Aug. 9 to 13).