‘Jeopardy!’ Icon Alex Trebek Explained Why He Didn’t Have a ‘Rooting Interest’ in Canadian Contestants

by Will Shepard

Alex Trebek will always be remembered as the iconic host of Jeopardy! His work on the game show for 37 years was nothing short of incredible.

The late game show host grew up in Sudbury, Ontario. From there, he went to college in Ottawa at the University of Ottawa. After he graduated, he joined the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) in 1961.

Finally, in 1984, Trebek began hosting the iconic game show he is now known for. He was 44 years old when he began hosting the show.

All of this is to say that you would imagine his Canadian allegiance would run high. You might think that whenever a Canadian person was on Jeopardy!, that Trebek was pulling for them. However, that was not necessarily the case.

During an interview with the CBC in 2008, George Stroumboulopoulos asked him about his hopes for certain contestants. Strombo asked if Trebek would be pulling for them over other people on the show. But, Trebek had a very diplomatic response to the question, all things considered.

“No, I have that twitch,” Trebek joked about winking at Canadian participants. “But, it works for everybody. It doesn’t work just for Canadians.”

Alex Trebek Explained That He Has No Allegiances to Canadian Players When They Come on “Jeopardy!”

“No, we had a Canadian do very well in our recent ‘Tournament of Champions,'” the Jeopardy! host said. “[The person] came in second to a very talented young American lady.”

“I don’t have a rooting interest, although I like it if a Canadian does well. And, I appreciate it,” Trebek explained to Stroumboulopoulos.

Then, the Jeopardy! host joked about how often he gets quizzed about how he favors Canadians. He said that people assume that he probably has an influence over the writing of the game show. But, Trebek said, “I don’t.”

He did note that the show’s head writer, at the time, is a Canadian. So there might be some unintended bias in terms of the structure of the questions.

“We get information that pertains to every country in the world,” the game show host explained.

“We would hope that, since most of our contestants are American, that they would know something about their neighbor to the north.” He then added that “they don’t always” know all that much information about Canadian history.

Even though Alex Trebek might have liked to see Canadians win at Jeopardy!, he never let it affect his hosting. There was never an instance where he was winking at Canadians and telling them that he had their back. He always hosted the game show in the right way.

Perhaps that was a big reason for his popularity, as well as the whole show’s immense success.