Much has been written in celebration of the late Alex Trebek. Few, however, have the insight into this legend’s last days hosting ‘Jeopardy!’ that his protege Ken Jennings does. Opening up to Fox News recently, Jennings recounts a touching story from one of Trebek’s last days hosting the show – and how his mentor continues to inspire him daily through the experience.
“I was backstage with him at a tournament and it was before the cancer diagnosis, but he was having a rotten day,” Jennings recalls of Trebek. “He was just feeling lousy. But then the music turned on and the announcer said his name and he just turned him to Alex Trebek and walked out there,” he continues.
Not long after, Trebek would pass of pancreatic cancer at age 80. Before he did, however, Jennings was able to discuss these final performances with the host. In recalling these final days, Jennings offers a remarkable glimpse into the man that was Alex Trebek.
Jennings on Alex Trebek’s Last Days on ‘Jeopardy!’: “It was not a performance”
“I asked him about it later and it was not a performance,” the interim host says of Trebek’s game-face in later days.
“You know, he’s somebody who actually feels best and is at his most confident and capable when he’s doing his job, when he’s hosting ‘Jeopardy!,’ because that’s the thing that he has made himself the best in the world at over the last 37 years,” Jennings continues.
“I really admire that.. just the idea that the thing you love, the place where you feel like you’re at home, can keep you going.”
For Jennings, the strength Alex Trebek embodied continues to (and will always) inspire him as he moves forward.
“I think about that day not just when I’m on TV, but when I’m doing anything… working on a book or when I’m doing an interview, you know, I just kind of think, how would Alex treat this?” he reflects.
If there is anything to take away from Trebek’s legacy, it is this. Knowing the late host loved what he did up until his very last is a legacy Jeopardy! fans will cherish for decades to come.
Ken Jennings recently opened up about his own struggle continuing the show without Trebek, as well. Within, he calls the task of hosting “nerve-wracking” without the late icon. ““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,” he says in the interview – which you can read in full here.
If you missed Jennings’ first stint as host of Jeopardy!, check out a preview here, in which he pays tribute to Alex Trebek.