‘Jeopardy!’: Why Alex Trebek Wanted to ‘Be in Control’ of Pancreatic Cancer Announcement

by Evan Reier

When Alex Trebek learned of his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, the Jeopardy! host had several different things to take care of.

Firstly, he needed to take care of his health. That’s a given. But being a celebrity meant that he had to handle both the cancer and the reaction to it.

In 2019, the Jeopardy legend spoke on the process to ABC7. It was never going to be an easy process, but Trebek explained how he was determined to make sure that people learned the news on his terms.

“Well, I wanted to be honest with the public when I made my very first announcement about my health,” Trebek said. “Because I knew the story would get out, and I wanted to be in control of how the story got out.”

One can only imagine being someone as famous as Alex Trebek is having to navigate something so personal like it’s a public relations announcement. However, when you’re the longest-running game show host ever, its a necessary concern.

Jeopardy! Legend Alex Trebek Didn’t Want ‘Fake News’

Unfortunately, the nature of the internet and celebrity means that sensationalism can be thrown in the mix of real news, even developments involving a pancreatic cancer diagnosis like with Alex Trebek.

That was something that the Jeopardy! icon had considered. It was that plus knowing that there were people that had followed him and the show for decades that eventually weighed into the decision.

With the media in mind, Trebek made his next steps. However, he always kept his at the forefront in terms of his announcement.

“I wanted our viewers, who are interested in my wellbeing,” Trebek continued. “To get the facts straight from the horse’s mouth. Not with any embellishments, not with any errors or fake news, whatever. Since then, I haven’t been called upon too often to speak in public, but I wanted to keep the audience apprised of what was going on and if there were any changes to my condition or changes to my treatment process, I wanted them to know about it.”

It’s a tough balance the longtime Jeopardy! host had to keep. On the one hand, he felt a duty to the show’s fans. On the other, his public presence meant it would be a firestorm when the news dropped. Sure enough, it was and it surrounded the TV legend until the end of his life.

Alex Trebek passed away on November 8, 2020.