Broadcast journalist Katie Couric says she recognizes the distinction of being the first female guest host of "Jeopardy!"
"I love that I'm the first woman!" Couric, 64, told People magazine in an interview posted Monday, when her prerecorded stint through March 19 began. "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?' "
She added in an interview for the "Jeopardy!" YouTube channel Sunday that being the first woman guest host "on a show that stands for excellence and intelligence and integrity is a real honor for me."
Couric — the NBC "Today" co-anchor from 1991 to 2006, who then became the first woman to solo anchor a network evening newscast, at CBS, through 2011 — said that despite her long on-camera experience, hosting "Jeopardy!" made her "a nervous wreck, honestly." She noted, "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 said. "But it was so much fun."
Upon being introduced on the show Monday, Couric told viewers, "It is such a thrill to be here guest-hosting a show I've watched and loved for years. And of course, [it is] a real honor to help out as all of us recover from the loss of the truly irreplaceable Alex Trebek," the beloved, decadeslong host who died of pancreatic cancer in November at age 80.
Couric, whose sister Emily in 2001 also succumbed to that disease, is using her appearance to help support Stand Up to Cancer, a charitable organization she co-founded to help fund research, and the Lustgarten Foundation, through its Pancreatic Cancer Collective initiative.
"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 told People. "They are focused on pancreatic cancer research, so I did that in honor of Alex and Emily."
Couric previously had appeared on the Sept. 14, 2010, and June 15, 2015, shows, giving video clues in the respective categories "Katie Couric, Witness to History" and "A Visit with Katie Couric."
Series champion Ken Jennings served as interim host immediately following the final Trebek episode, which aired Jan. 8, followed by series executive producer Mike Richards.