Stars from ‘The Chase’ Reveal Lessons Learned from ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Alex Trebek

by Atlanta Northcutt

Name someone who continues teaching lessons to former star contestants on the hit television game show Jeopardy? The correct answer is ‘Who is Alex Trebek?’

Jeopardy has displayed some of America’s sharpest minds. Now, those same game show contestants are starring on a new trivia game show.

The Catch Has Three of the Greatest Jeopardy! Players

The host of The Catch, Sara Haines will pay tribute to Alex Trebek on the first episode of the new show, which seems only fitting.

“We started to shoot the show within a day or two of Alex’s passing,” Haines said. “There was no way to go into it without saying [to the audience], ‘We recognize this, we feel what you feel.'”

The Catch premieres on Thursday night and features the top three Jeopardy! contestants, James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter.

“We were speaking for an audience that was grieving,” says Jennings. “People had Alex in their house every evening for decades. It wasn’t just a broadcaster, they felt like he was part of the family. And I think we wanted them to know we felt the same way. We miss him too.”

The Greatest Players of All Time Talk Trebek

The three most prolific players didn’t only stand on stage and answer questions given by Trebek, but throughout their rise through the competition, Alex aimed to give lessons about life and showbiz.

“The thing that always impressed me about Alex, watching him work, was that he had extraordinarily high standards for himself, but he was also having a great time every time he stepped out there,” says Rutter. “I think that’s great advice for anybody in their job: expect a lot out of yourself, pursue excellence, and have a great time, and you can’t go wrong. That’s what I was trying to do [on The Chase], and that’s probably the biggest thing I’ve taken from Alex generally, in life.”

James Holzhauer drew inspiration from Alex Trebek after his announcement of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Holzhauer was the first contestant to play Jeopardy! following the cancer reveal. He was inspired by the host’s persistence and positivity during a difficult treatment regimen in the face of such a terrifying prognosis.

Each Star Player Was Taught a Life Lesson by Alex

“So many of the times Alex was hosting when I was on, he was going through chemo or had had a setback in his treatment or something like that,” Holzhauer recalls. “You could tell it took all of the energy he had to get through five taping episodes in one day. And that might have been all he was able to do that day, but he poured his heart into what he loved and did not let this prognosis stop him, which I think is just amazing.”

One of the previous star players, Ken Jennings, is joining Jeopardy! as a producer and at times, a clue presenter. Also, Ken will serve as the show’s first interim host after Trebek’s death.

“Alex was genuine. You could not do that job just reading answers off a piece of paper,” says Jennings. “He knew all that stuff, and that was what was always inspiring to me as a kid about him. Jeopardy! was a space where nobody was going to make fun of you for knowing stuff. That’s kind of the secret sauce of the game, is that it’s cool to know a lot of weird stuff.”

The Legacy and Legend Alex Trebek Will Leave Behind

“Honestly, that really formed me as a person. A half-hour of that a day was a pretty big deal for me,” he adds. “I think it’s nice that maybe The Chase will be that for some kid watching next week.”

The Chase is a similar game growing from the grass planted by Jeopardy! and Alex Trebek.

“We hope [Alex] would love what we’re doing here, because we’re taking three men that he worked so closely with and kind of carrying a torch,” Haines says. “We’re not trying to be Jeopardy!. However, we are in that trivia game show world, and we hope he’d watch.”