For the late, great Alex Trebek, there was no greater pleasure than seeing “Jeopardy!” contestants succeed. He relished in their triumphs and remained modest throughout his remarkable, near-40-year tenure.
This is no small feat, either, as “Jeopardy!” is, by all accounts, one of America’s greatest intellectual properties. Emphasis on intellectual. While most game show hosts would let such dominance go to their heads, Trebek was known for his calm, approachable aura. And how Trebek made it all look effortless wasn’t through some omnipresent, all-knowing psyche. It was through humility.
When “60 Minutes” correspondent Ed Bradley was granted rare access to “Jeopardy!”s closed set in 2003, Bradley found this out for himself.
During their interview, Trebek praised the genius of the show’s contestants. For his own part, the late host revealed that any time he would put his own knowledge of the material to the test, he would “get 60 to 70 percent” of questions correct.
Still, to the Average Joe, that’s pretty remarkable statistics. Trebek, however, was quick to clear the air.
“My reflexes are no longer as fast as they once were,” he told Bradley via CBS News in 2003. “And a good 30-year-old contestant would clean my clock…”
“However, in a senior’s tournament, I’m your man,” the ever-quick-witted icon quipped.
‘Jeopardy!’s Alex Trebek Never Viewed Himself as a ‘Genius’ or ‘Celebrity’
Trebek’s trademark lack of hubris spread into his view of “celebrity,” as well. In the same interview, the icon refuted the notion that he was some sort of – well – icon.
“I’ve been on the show for so long now … that people recognize me not so much as a celebrity, but as a friendly face,” he continued to Bradley. “One they’re used to seeing in their homes.”
The late “Jeopardy!” host went as far as to say this outlook went both ways, too. To Trebek, fans of the game show saw him the same way he saw himself.
“And they don’t make a big deal out of it. The most I will get is, ‘Hey, I liked your show a lot. I’m a big fan.’ And that’s about it,” he stated.
Throughout his many encounters with fans, Trebek said fans would “then they go about their business,” and he would “go about” his own.
Something tells this author, however, that Alex Trebek had a few “I can’t believe it, it’s Alex Trebek!” moments in his long life. The multi-award-winning host was simply too modest to ever say so.