‘Jeopardy’ Legend Ken Jennings Described Alex Trebek as the ‘Goofy Uncle’ Behind the Scenes

by Amy Myers

After Ken Jennings‘ first victory on Jeopardy! in 2004, already viewers knew that his would be a name to remember. As the gameshow’s 2020 “Greatest of All Time” player, Jennings has earned his spot alongside the late and great host, Alex Trebek.

However, his relationship with Trebek transformed from just contestant and host to Jeopardy! team members. On Season 37 of the show, Jennings took on the role of goodwill ambassador and consultant.

Working Behind the Scenes on ‘Jeopardy!’

According to the Entertainment Weekly, Ken Jennings scored a total of 74 victories during his time on Jeopardy!, winning more than $4.3 million. After Jennings decided to retire from the game, the executive producer of the show gave him a call. According to TV Insider, the producer offered Jennings a job on the show.

While Jennings was no longer a contestant in front of the screen, he made no hesitation to be a part of the behind-the-scenes action.

“I didn’t have to think for a second because the only sad thing about retiring from Jeopardy would be not being part of my favorite show anymore,” Jennings said. “That’s the thing about Jeopardy. It’s kind of in the fabric of our lives. They have good memories of watching it. People plan their evenings around it. And I knew I would miss that, so I said, ‘Yes, in a heartbeat.'”

Jennings new role on the show seems to be the perfect fit for his situation, too.

“It’s a really great gig, being a goodwill ambassador for a show that already has so much goodwill, it’s not a tough lift at all,” Jennings continued. “Just consulting on clues [contestants] and game board material. I show up myself on the game board sometimes, reading clues. I just love that I’m still part of the Jeopardy! world. I really would’ve missed it.”

Alex Trebek’s Off-Air Personality

Of course, one of the greatest perks of working on Jeopardy! is the chance to work alongside Alex Trebek. Before the famous host passed away from stage four pancreatic cancer, Trebek and Jennings were known to have a great rapport. However, it wasn’t until Jennings became a part of the show’s staff that he could get to know Trebek when the cameras were off.

“You get to see him in little snatches over your time on the show. And over the years, I’ve kind of gotten a sense of who he is. He’s exactly the guy we all want him to be from TV, not just the cool old-school broadcaster, but the reliably good authoritative person,” Jennings told TV Insider.

According to the show’s consultant, Trebek was also “a little bit goofier than you’d think.” In his recent position, Jennings saw a side of the Jeopardy! host that the rest of the world didn’t know.

“Between rounds, he’ll take audience questions and he’s cracking jokes that are self-deprecating. He swears. He does accents. I’ve seen him do little bits of song and dance. He’s really much more the goofy uncle than the stern dad, and I think America doesn’t always see that because there’s not a lot of time for him to make wisecracks.”

Whether a “goofy uncle” or one of America’s favorite game show hosts of all time, Jennings cherished the time he had working with Alex Trebek.