Katie Couric on Being the First Female Jeopardy! Guest Host: 'I Was a Nervous Wreck'
"I love that I'm the first woman!" Couric, who will host March 8-19, tells PEOPLE. "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?'"
Couric, 64, says the gig has long been on her bucket list, but it was made all the more special because she's raising awareness and funds for pancreatic cancer research — the disease that took both the life of her sister, Emily, in 2001 at age 54, and of course, of iconic Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek last November, at age 80. (Couric also hopes to raise awareness about colon cancer screening; her late husband, Jay Monahan, died from the disease at age 42 in 1998.)
"The Jeopardy! folks were matching the winnings for my time on the show, so I was able to contribute a substantial amount of money to Stand Up to Cancer, and specifically, the pancreatic cancer dream team," Couric says. "They are focused on pancreatic cancer research, so I did that in honor of Alex and Emily."
So did she find hosting the game show fun?
"I was a nervous wreck, honestly," she says, noting that she's never done something like this before. "There are a lot of moving parts behind the scenes, things you need to figure out. It's complicated! It requires a lot of multitasking." She adds, "But it was so much fun."
She credits the team of producers with helping everything go smoothly, but does note that there's an obvious void now that the show's longtime host is no longer with us.
"[Alex Trebek] is so missed," she says. "He was so beloved."
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