Oh, Alex Trebek! Even at the very beginning of his career on Jeopardy! it was clear he was going to be great. On his second-ever episode, he was met with a unique situation.
During “Final Jeopardy!,” a situation arose where each of the contestants got the question wrong. Normally, this might not be a big deal, but this time each of the contestants bet all of their money. While the show has since adapted to handle situations like this, back then, there was nothing in place to deal with it.
Again, this was Alex Trebek’s second episode on Jeopardy! Airing on September 11, 1985, the audience was in for a great show. While the result was disorganized, chaotic, and quite honestly funny, it makes for a wonderful memory.
“Welcome back, folks. This is the ‘Final Jeopardy!‘ before the championship. The wagers have been made in secret. Players, in a moment, I am going to give you the ‘Final Jeopardy!‘ answer. You’ll have 30 seconds in which to write down the question. Be sure it is in the form of a question. Here we go! The category is ‘The Calendar.'”
Alex Trebek, in His Second Ever Episode, Doesn’t Know What to Do When Everyone Loses
Alex Trebek then reveals that the “Final Jeopardy!” answer is the calendar date that began the 20th century. The clock begins ticking as the contestants work to find the answer. When time ends, the legendary host begins with the contestant that has the least amount of money.
He reads the contestant’s answer, “What was January 1, 1900?” But, that is not the correct answer. This contestant wagered all of his money on the question, so he finishes with nothing.
So he moves on to the next candidate who has $5,000. The woman has put the same answer down as well. Alex Trebek learns quickly that she risked all of her money as well. The crowd feels her pain and responds accordingly. He then jokes that the leading contestant probably has put the same thing down for his answer as well.
The Jeopardy! host asks him, “How much did he risk? Did he go for the whole bundle?” The crowd groans as everyone learns that he bet all of his money.
Everyone, including Alex Trebek, is in shock as they learn that everyone is finishing with nothing left. The Jeopardy! host really doesn’t know what to do. He even says, “I’m at a loss for words. But, in a situation like this…” So he whistles and continues, saying that because everyone has nothing left, they all get consolation prizes.
So, instead of inviting the winner back, he has to tell the crowd they will be bringing in three new contestants. This moment is clearly a result of the game show being in its infancy. Nonetheless, it is awesome and won’t soon be forgotten by Jeopardy! fanatics.