Ken Jennings is himself a Jeopardy! legend. The most successful contestant in the gameshow’s near-40-year history, Jennings winnings total over $3.3 million. Through his long, dominating stretch on the game show, he gained far more than money. The champion would become close friends with host and American icon: the late, great Alex Trebek.
As such, Jennings was tapped first to fill in for his mentor after Trebek’s tragic passing from pancreatic cancer at 80. He’s done a fine job so far, and is as fitting a host as any will ever be as Trebek’s only true protege. Like so many of us who have lost a loved one, however, Jennings still finds himself “nervous” and wishing his mentor was close by.
“I’m like everybody else, I wish it was still Alex out there. But the main thing I noticed is what an amazing job he did, he made it always look so effortless and graceful,” Jennings tells the Seattle Refined.
“It’s been really rough missing him and also just missing ‘Jeopardy!’ with him,” Jennings continues. “I think that’s what we’re grieving, the fact that he would be part of our lives, that we could have Alex hosting Jeopardy! every evening.”
“It won’t be the same, but it will still be ‘Jeopardy!'”
Indeed, viewers the world over are still feeling the loss of Alex Trebek. The kind, sincere, and openly energetic host was a staple of household evenings for nearly 40 years. The multi-Emmy winning host was, after all, in our lives for more than 8,000 episodes since his tenure began in 1984.
To this end, Jennings knows – and wants others to know – that there will never be any replacing him.
“I kind of wanted to open the show that way and just say, ‘Look, you can’t replace a great like Alex Trebek. We want ‘Jeopardy!’ to continue,” he says in turn. “It won’t be the same, but it will still be ‘Jeopardy!'”
As such, “Katie Couric, Aaron Rodgers, Bill Whitaker, and Mayim Bialik will each take their turn as guest hosts of Jeopardy!. As a part of each guest host’s appearance, a donation will be made to a charity of their choice,” the show’s official Twitter account specified Wednesday.
If you missed Jennings’ first stint as host of Jeopardy!, check out a preview here, in which he pays tribute to Alex Trebek.