Ken Jennings is breaking his silence about the departure of his former "Jeopardy!" co-host, Mayim Bialik.
Bialik, who took over shared hosting duties for the beloved game show with Jennings after longtime host Alex Trebek died in 2020, announced earlier this month that she was leaving the show. Now, Jennings is sharing that the news took him by surprise.
"It took me off guard, because I loved working with my Mayim, and I’m gonna miss her," he said in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "I can’t speak to her decision-making process or her opinions about it."
Speaking on his feelings about now being the sole host of the show, he said, "I’m just a fan of ‘Jeopardy!’ and I’m always delighted to host when they call upon me. I just feel extremely lucky to have even been considered for this job as a non-broadcaster."
Jennings continued, "It’s kind of a weird thing to try to bring back an ex-contestant to host, and I’ve obviously been learning as I go. But I loved growing up with ‘Jeopardy!’ where Alex was the host of that show for almost 38 years, and people just kind of felt like he was part of their family, and it’s impossible to fill those shoes. But it’s such an honor and and hopefully I look forward to 37 more years of doing it, when I’ll be a very, very old man."
Bialik and Jennings began hosting "Jeopardy!" in 2021 as the show auditioned a series of guest hosts for Trebek's replacement. In July 2022, they were announced as the new permanent hosts. They took turns working on the regular episodes and the various tournaments, with Bialik handling "Celebrity Jeopardy!".
In May, the writers strike began. The remaining episodes for the season had already been taped, and in the summer they began filming new episodes, working around the lack of writers by recycling old clues and pulling contestants from previous shows. Bialik has said that she's a firm union supporter, and she didn't host any of these shows.
The strike ended on Sept. 27, but she still didn't return to hosting duties. Rumors swirled about her status with the show, and on Dec. 15, she finally addressed the matter in a statement she shared to Instagram.
"As the holiday break begins in Hollywood, I have some Jeopardy! news," the 48-year-old actress wrote. "Sony has informed me that I will no longer be hosting the syndicated version of Jeopardy."
The "Big Bang Theory" star added that she was "honored" to have been nominated for an Emmy this year for hosting the show and wrote, "I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the Jeopardy! family."
"For all of you who have supported me through this incredible journey and to the fans, contestants, writers, staff and crew of America’s Favorite Quiz Show, thank you," Bialik concluded her post.
In a statement shared to the official "Jeopardy!" Instagram page, the show shared, "Mayim Bialik has announced she will no longer be hosting the syndicated version of ‘Jeopardy!'. We made the decision to have one host for the syndicated show next season to maintain continuity for our viewers, and Ken Jennings will be the sole host for syndicated ‘Jeopardy!’."
"We are truly grateful for all of Mayim’s contributions to ‘Jeopardy!’, and we hope to continue to work with her on primetime specials," the statement concluded.