‘Jeopardy!’: Alex Trebek Once Revealed His Most ‘Surprising’ Celebrity Contestant

by Madison Miller
Photo by: Ben Hider/Getty Images

Besides being the host of “Jeopardy!” for nearly four decades, Alex Trebek was also the host of “Celebrity Jeopardy!”

Here the gameplay and the overall environment changed a bit. Instead of everyday folks, Trebek stood in front of celebrities trying to win money for their charity of choice. He has seen over 200 celebrities in the “Jeopardy!” studio. This includes anyone from Jane Seymour to Wayne Brady to Neil Patrick Harris to Ashton Kutcher to Jodie Foster to Lauren Graham to Andy Richter.

There was one celebrity contestant that surprised Alex Trebek the most when they stepped foot on the studio stage and started to play the game. Trebek said that individual was Cheech Marin. He is a stand-up comedian, actor, and activist most known for his comedy act called “Cheech & Chong” alongside Tommy Chong. The act was popular in the ’70s and ’80s and focused on the hippie, drug, and counterculture movements.

He has also been the voice of several Disney characters in movies like “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” “Cars,” “Coco,” and “The Lion King.” Due to the act he puts on as a comedian, Trebek didn’t know what to expect from Marin as a contestant.

“Everybody had expectations having watched ‘Cheech & Chong’s’ … he was bright, very knowledgeable, and he won his game,” Trebek said on a “Good Morning America” interview from 2019.

Marin Cheech on ‘Celebrity Jeopardy!’

Cheech has appeared on “Celebrity Jeopardy!” on two different occasions. He was actually the first “Celebrity Jeopardy” champion back in 1992. He talked to CNN in 2020 the excitement of being on the show and receiving the approval of the late Alex Trebek after he won.

“It was like Alex Trebek nodded in my direction! … What a thrill!”

Marin then appeared on the show again in 2010. He happened to compete against Anderson Cooper, a CNN anchor and a recent guest host of the show. Anderson got “destroyed” by Marin.

“I got so thrilled to win the first time, and it was all for charity. When I went on the second time, I was against Cheech Marin from Cheech & Chong. And I got really cocky because I was like, I mean, come on, Cheech Marin … He’s been smoking a lot. The synapses can’t be really sharp. He’s so fast on the buzzer and he’s so smart! He knows everything. You know what it’s like to walk into the newsroom at CNN after you’ve lost to Cheech Marin? It doesn’t go well,” Anderson Cooper said on “The Ellen Degeneres Show.”

Despite the fun rivalry between Marin and Cooper, both agree just how wonderful the experience and Alex Trebek was.

“Trebek really was the perfect host. He was smart, he was funny when it was called for, he was decent, he was confident enough to know he didn’t need to make the show about him,” Cooper said. Then Marin added, “you feel good, even if you looked stupid sometimes.”