Some sobering news today: the GOAT of game show hosts, Alex Trebek of “Jeopardy!”, revealed today that he was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. In a video posted to YouTube, Trebek acknowledged the long odds he is facing, but vowed “I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working. And with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rates statistics for this disease.”
After previous hosting gigs on “The Wizard of Odds” and “High Rollers,” Alex Trebek has hosted “Jeopardy!” since 1984, receiving 28 Daytime Emmy nominations and five wins in the process — both are all-time records among game show hosts. A veritable institution of Americana over three decades, although rumors have been around seemingly forever regarding his eventual retirement, Trebek renewed his contract back in October to host through 2022.
Full disclosure: I had the privilege of competing in the “Jeopardy!” College Championship back in October 2010 (has it really been eight years now? Take me back Clarence!). As a lifelong fan who spent many summer afternoons as a kid watching “Jeopardy!” with my grandparents as a daily ritual (“Course I got Jeopardy! at five o’clock. I watch Jeopardy!”), it was surreal to have been one of the 15 selected out of the tens of thousands of college students who apply every year for that tournament. And it was beyond surreal to finally meet Trebek: although my interactions with him over two days of taping were relatively brief, he certainly lived up to his billing as a larger-than-life pop culture icon — gregarious, witty, and a tireless professional with very few equals. During taping breaks he would take every opportunity to regale the audience with humorous anecdotes and answer their questions.
Here’s my “Jeopardy!” class photo with Trebek. I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out which one I am in short order (pun intended):
I wish Trebek and his family the very best through the months ahead. But I have no doubt that he will fight on, no matter the prognosis. I’ll wager a true Daily Double on it.