HomeEntertainment‘Jeopardy!’: Alex Trebek’s Poor Upbringing Drastically Influenced His Response to Success

‘Jeopardy!’: Alex Trebek’s Poor Upbringing Drastically Influenced His Response to Success

by John Jamison
(Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)

Late “Jeopardy!” Icon Alex Trebek came from humble beginnings. And even after he went on to become one of the most recognizable faces in the country, he maintained that humility. In fact, it was his awareness of just how fortunate he was to be in such a position that motivated him to pay the good fortune forward.

And it was far from an easy road. Alex Trebek didn’t just luck into becoming one of the most iconic game show hosts of all time. He put his time in, starting from the bottom at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He did any work they would give him. It ranged from sports coverage to news announcing, which eventually led to his hosting opportunities.

But even then, the road was paved with pitfalls. He literally hosted a show called “Pitfall,” organized by Catelena Productions. The company ended up filing for bankruptcy before Trebek’s salary check cleared. He forever kept the bounced $49,000 check on his wall. And he never saw a dime of that money.

It reminded him of just how easily things could dissolve. And that’s the same mentality he kept with him through the decades he worked on “Jeopardy!” Alex Trebek was not one to take his opportunity for granted.

In a 2019 interview with CTV, the longtime “Jeopardy!” host talked about how coming from a poor background affected his perspective on wealth.

“Well, I think it makes me appreciate the hardships that affect many other people. And since I’m in a position to help, why not do something to help make their lives a little easier,” Trebek said. “Give them the break that I had in a different context. And maybe that will turn their lives around, as it did mine.”

The ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Saw it as His Obligation to Help Others

Helping others wasn’t an obligation for Alex Trebek because society said he should give back or because it was good for his image. He did it because it fulfilled him.

Beyond the comfort and entertainment, he provided to millions on a near-daily basis for decades. Alex Trebek was not stingy with his money in any way. Over the course of his career, he donated almost $10 million to his alma mater, the University of Ottawa. Further, he raised and donated huge sums of money to humanitarian efforts around the world.

Why did he do it?

“There’s no downside to it. I’m helping somebody,” Trebek continued in the 2019 interview. “That makes them feel good. I feel good because I’m making them feel good. So, why not do it?”

It’s hard to imagine a world without the impact of Alex Trebek. But to some degree, the world is a better place because of it.