Like many a retired sports star, Ken Jennings is taking on a new behind-the-scenes role in the game that made him famous.
The recently-crowned greatest Jeopardy! contestant of all time is joining the show as a consulting producer, beginning with the upcoming 37th season, which will premiere in syndication Sept. 14. Jennings, who still holds the record for the show’s longest winning streak, will work behind the scenes and serve as the show’s “general ambassador,” as well as present his own special video categories in upcoming episodes.
“Though I’ve played my last round of Jeopardy! as a contestant, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to remain involved with my favorite show,” Jennings said in a statement. “I’m still in on all the action, but I don’t have to worry about phrasing things in the form of a question anymore.”
Jennings rocketed to fame with his original run on Jeopardy! in 2004, winning 74 games and racking up over $2.5 million. He’s returned to the show several times to play in various tournaments, most recently January’s Greatest of All Time event, which pitted Jennings against the show’s two other biggest champions, James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter. (Jennings ultimately proved victorious.)
Eric McCandless/ABC; Sony Pictures Entertainment
Jeopardy! recently resumed production after halting in March, along with the rest of Hollywood, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The show’s set has been redesigned to comply with health and safety regulations, with extra space between the contestants’ podiums and between the contestants and host Alex Trebek‘s lectern.
“I feel good, and I feel excited because once again Jeopardy! has demonstrated that it’s at the forefront of television programming,” Trebek said in a statement. “I believe we are the first quiz show to come back on the air in the COVID-19 era. On a personal level, I’m excited because it gets me out of the house. It gives me something to do on a regular basis, and I was missing that.”
Trebek, who is currently battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer, has repeatedly said he plans to continue hosting Jeopardy! for the foreseeable future. Giving an update on his health in July, he said, “I am doing well. I have been continuing my treatment and it is paying off, though it does fatigue me a great deal. My numbers are good. I am feeling great.”