Jeopardy! Fans Call for Boycott After Dr. Oz Begins Guest Hosting: 'Horrible Mistake'
Oz, 60, began his two-week stint as guest host on Monday, and while the television star expressed his gratitude at the opportunity to fill in for the late Alex Trebek, some fans did not take so warmly to his appearance, with many calling for him to be removed as host.
The controversy over his hosting gig began last month, when Oz appeared on a list of upcoming celebrity guest hosts. The announcement was met with criticism, prompting a handful of former Jeopardy! contestants and winners to publish an open letter in protest of the casting.
In the letter, published Feb. 24 on Medium, the group claimed 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.
"Throughout his nearly two decades on television, he has used his authority as a doctor to push harmful ideas onto the American public, in stark contrast with his oath to first do no harm," the letter claimed. "Dr. Oz represents what has become a dubious trend in America: the elevation of the credentialed talking head at the expense of academic rigor and consensus."
Despite the backlash, Oz took the podium on Monday, opening the show with a tribute to Trebek, who died in November after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
"I was so fortunate to become friends with Alex, and I visited him and this show as often as I could," he said. "One of my favorite memories was of Alex showing me, with immense pride, a room full of letters and support for him from you, from his fans. And of all of his achievements, he was most proud of his connection with all of you at home."
But as the show aired, fans flocked to social media to express their disapproval of Oz's hosting gig, causing #BoycottJeopardy to start trending on Twitter. (The show did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment.)
"For the first time in literally decades I will not be watching #Jeopardy," wrote one fan. "I never thought Jeopardy would chase me away as a viewer but here we are."
"Our family are loyal jeopardy fans HOWEVER, we will #BoycottJeopardy while Dr. Oz is the guest host," wrote another.
While fans might not have been pleased to see Oz on the show, his episode on Monday raised $23,001 for the charity HealthCorps, a non-profit organization that addresses "health inequity by educating and empowering teens — encouraging them to become change agents within their family, their school and their neighborhood," according to a press release.