After over 30 years at the helm, Alex Trebek will be stepping down as host of popular TV show Jeopardy! when his contract expires in 2016. Trebek suffered his second heart attack last summer and had considered leaving the show when his contract expires later this year, but Sony convinced him to sign a final 3-year contract. He will be 76 when this contract expires.
But here the question of the hour (or, of the next couple of years): Who will replace Trebek? Several names are now in the mix, and many suspect that Trebek's ideal replacement would be a comedian or journalist who has a stable job now but will be looking for work in 2016.
Here are 5 potential contenders to replace Alex Trebek when he retires:
1. Matt Lauer
Reportedly at the top of the list, Lauer's current contract with NBC's Today is due to expire in 2015. His current struggles with the show could mean an earlier departure, which could seal the deal as early as this year. But could his iffy reputation with certain co-stars hurt him in the end?
2. Anderson Cooper
If it's a younger face Jeopardy wants, let it be Cooper's. His contract with CNN is also due to expire in the next few years, and with his daytime show having been canceled in the fall, he could easily take his talents to ABC and take Trebek's place. He also has game show experience, having hosted ABC's The Mole in the early 2000s and even winning Jeopardy! last year.
3. Seth Meyers
Meyers has been on Saturday Night Live for 10 years, so by 2016 he could be looking for a change. With fellow comedian Drew Carey moving to the game show circuit in 2007 to take over The Price Is Right, this trend could continue if Meyers were to take Trebek's place. He's funny, attractive, and popular — why not?
4. Andy Richter
As Conan O'Brien's longtime writer, announcer, and co-host, funnyman Richter has entertained millions and even amassed an impressive résumé as an actor in the process. Like Cooper, he has also appeared on and won Jeopardy!, beating Wolf Blitzer and Dana Delany in 2009. Giving Richter his own show could be just what TV needs.
5. Ken Jennings
While not an official contender by any means, Jennings certainly knows the show inside and out, having won 74 times and collecting $2.5 million between June 2 and November 30, 2004. He is now an author and public speaker who is still very much in the spotlight. The Jeopardy! shooting schedule is relatively light — why not?
A decision is not expected for about a year and a half, so speculation and rumors are all we have for now. Until then, who is your dream choice to replace Alex Trebek?