‘Jeopardy!’ Contestant Revealed Alex Trebek Pretended Fans Were in Crowd When Show Stopped Live Audiences

by Halle Ames

We already knew that Alex Trebek was the Superman of Jeopardy!, but listen to this contestant recall him also being a one-man show. 

Alex Trebek was the bread and butter of the hit game show for over 36 years. In November, the beloved host, unfortunately, lost a battle with stage four pancreatic cancer, a diagnosis he had been battling for over a year and a half. 

However, no matter how sick he was, Alex Trebek continued to appear on the show. Even despite a global pandemic, Trebek would stand behind his podium and greet contestants. Jeopardy! featured his last taped show in early January of 2020. 

According to The Ringer, Zack Newkirk was one of the lucky contestants that saw Alex Trebek at work. Since he was selected to come on the show on March 11, 2020, the pandemic was just beginning. 

The show did what it could to stop the spread, and so they canceled all live audiences. During commercial breaks, it was in typical Alex Trebek fashion to answer questions from the audience. With a barren gallery, he was forced to improvise. 

Newkirk reveals that the silent group of people in the crowd consisted of nervous Jeopardy! contestants waiting for their chance to take the stage. 

No worries. Trebek was a seasoned professional. 

“He started pretending that people on the empty side of the audience were asking questions,” Newkirk says. “He would be like, ‘You in the back, with the red sweater! What do I like to do for fun? Oh, I like to work around the house …’ It was almost like a one-man show.” 

In the Wake of Alex Trebek

Currently, the show is trying to fill the massive void that Alex Trebek left when he died. Jeopardy! is employing many celebrities to try their hand at the hosting job in hopes of finding a permanent fit for the role.  

So far, five Jeopardy! hosts have already had their day in the spotlight. They include Jeopardy! royalty Ken Jennings, executive producer Mike Richards, journalist Katie Couric, as well as TV personality Dr. Oz. Most recently, Aaron Rodgers has all taken their place behind the podium. 

TV personality Anderson Cooper is the acting host with a few more days until his reign is over.

Although no one will be able to replace Alex Trebek, Jeopardy! has plenty of capable talent prepared for guests.

The star-studded list continues with more notable names. Some hosts that are still waiting for their turn on the Jeopardy stage include Today host Savannah Guthrie, actress Mayim Bialik, “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta,  NFL commentator Joe Buck and most recently announced, LeVar Burton.