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In conversation with Tamron Hall on the host's talk show Monday, the CNN senior legal analyst, 41, claimed she was slighted after pursuing the opportunity to potentially host the game show after Alex Trebek's death, even though the beloved presenter had proposed her as a successor.
Admitting she was "shocked" that she caught Trebek's attention as a possible pick, as the two had never met, Coates called herself "a lifelong fan of Jeopardy!" and said she was flattered when he named her in a 2018 interview with TMZ on possible future replacements. In November 2020, Trebek died at age 80 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.
"I was honored by it and I had a chance to thank him and also to reach out to him while he struggled with pancreatic cancer," Coates told Hall, 51. "And I asked for the opportunity when it came time, when they were looking for people to possibly fill in. I certainly raised my hand and knocked on doors and found them closed."
"And I asked for the opportunity. I was told 'no,' which is one of those moments when you have to remember to wear your own jersey," she continued. "You have to remember to continue to be your own champion in other respects and sometimes the vision that you have for yourself — or those that surprise you, other people — don't align with what happens, and that happened there."
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Continuing, the attorney and SiriusXM host joked, "But I tell you, with the work I do now, do you know how much easier my life would be if I had the answers in advance?"
Two years before he died, Trebrek spoke about two people he thought would make good Jeopardy! hosts (neither suggestion ended up being part of the rotation of interim hosts) while producers searched for a permanent replacement.
During a 2018 interview, TMZ's Harvey Levin asked Trebek, "Who would be a good solid host of the show if you retired?"
"I mentioned to our producer not long ago that the fellow who does play-by-play for the Los Angeles Kings, they should consider him," he said, referring to sportscaster Alex Faust.
When Levin asked, "What about a woman?" Trebek replied, "There is an attorney, Laura Coates, she's African American and she appears on some of the cable news shows from time to time."
Jeopardy! producer Mike Richards was originally named as the permanent host in August but stepped down amid a series of scandals. Mayim Bialik and Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings are splitting hosting duties for the remainder of season 38.
A spokesperson for Jeopardy! did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.