While Couric’s details are shocking, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to ‘Jeopardy!’ fans. No game show runs for this long without a major cheating scandal if an incredibly tight ship doesn’t exist. In fact, the integrity of ‘Jeopardy!’ is the stuff of American lore – and now we know why.
According to former guest host Katie Couric, being handed the clues for episodes felt like receiving the “nuclear code,” she tells Poynter. “I basically had to promise my life savings if I divulged any of the clues to anyone. They were really serious about it.”
And while Couric is as experienced as any other television great, such scrutiny took its toll.
“It’s pretty exhausting to do five of those in one day — just to make sure you’re pronouncing everything correctly,” she continues. “They give you these complicated Latin terms. My daughters would’ve really crushed it, but I don’t really speak Latin…”
All in all, Couric now feels even more comfortable toting ‘Jeopardy’ as an “American institution.” Her respect for the show is far from newfound. It has, however, been heartily fortified.
“I’ve always marveled at the contestants. But this really made me appreciate and respect the contestants more than I already did,” the journalism icon adds for Poynter. “‘Jeopardy!’ is not really a game show. It doesn’t feel right to call it a game show. It is an American institution.”
Katie Couric on ‘Jeopardy!’s Late Alex Trebek
Likewise, Couric’s admiration for the late Alex Trebek has been strengthened, as well. During her hosting tenure, which aired March 8 to March 19, Katie Couric made history as the first female host of ‘Jeopardy!’ – all while experiencing first hand what Trebek was somehow able to do through his painful last months suffering from pancreatic cancer.
“This has been an extraordinary experience for me,” Couric began during her inaugural episode. “And on a personal note, it has made me respect Alex Trebek even more than I already did,” she says of the late host.
“Hosting this show is hard! And the fact that he did this while he was fighting pancreatic cancer, well, that was downright Herculean,” Couric continues in praise. “I am so proud to help carry on his legacy, and raise money for pancreatic cancer research.”
Couric and the iconic gameshow teamed up to benefit cancer research through her organization, Stand Up 2 Cancer. In the end, they raised over $200,000 together.