“Jeopardy!” guest host Ken Jennings’ nightly tribute to Alex Trebek has many fans getting emotional.
Jennings, who has been serving as the game show’s interim host since Trebek’s death in November 2020, ends each episode with a simple yet heartwarming acknowledgement of the longtime “Jeopardy!” quizmaster.
After thanking the viewers for tuning in, Jennings has been signing off each show by saying, “Thank you, Alex.”
Jennings, 46, is a legendary contestant of the program, having won 74 consecutive games and being hailed as the champion in last year’s “Greatest of All Time” tournament.
In March 2019, Trebek announced that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He filmed his last “Jeopardy!” episode on October 29, 2020, just 10 days before he succumbed to the disease on November 8, 2020. He was 80 years old.
The host’s final episode aired on January 8, 2021. It closed with a 90-second montage of Trebek’s clips from the series over the years.
In a tweet, Author Jessica Brody verbalized exactly how we’ve all been feeling about the moving sign-off.
“Every single time @KenJennings thanks Alex at the end of @Jeopardy, I get all choked up. I hope he never stops,” she said.
In response to the tweet, Jennings revealed that it was actually the show’s executive producer that came up with the idea.
“Thanks, Alex” was suggested as a sign-off by executive producer Mike Richards, and I’m glad he did. There wouldn’t be a show without Alex,” he replied.
During his first stint as a guest host on January 11, Jennings paid a special tribute to Trebek, expressing his admiration for the late icon.
“You know, sharing the stage with Alex Trebek was one of the greatest honors of my life,” he said after walking out on stage during his first appearance. “Not many things in life are perfect, but Alex did this job pretty much perfectly for more than 36 years. And it was even better up close. We were dazzled by his intelligence, his charm, his grace — really, there’s no other word for it.”
“Like all ‘Jeopardy!’ fans, I miss Alex very much,” he added, his voice quivering. “And I thank him for what he did for all of us. Let’s be totally clear, no one will ever replace the great Alex Trebek, but we can honor him by playing the game he loved.”
Just before the show, Jennings tweeted a picture of an audience ticket to Trebek’s very first “Jeopardy!” pilot from 1983, which he kept in his pocket while guest-hosting as a “good luck charm.”
Jennings is the first of several interim hosts set to preside the program. Mayim Bialik, Katie Couric, Aaron Rodgers, and Bill Whitaker will also fill in before a permanent host takes over.
In January, Richards told Deadline: “Ken stepped in and did a great job for us as a guest host. We will have a series of guest hosts throughout the spring.”
Following Trebek’s death, rumors initially circulated that Jennings—who is serving as a consulting producer on this season of “Jeopardy!”—would be Trebek’s permanent replacement.
Based on the viewers’ reactions on Twitter, it’s safe to say that Jennings is doing a pretty solid job at being the quiz show’s host.
Here are some of their comments:
“@KenJennings is doing a great job! I hope once you get all the guest hosts out of your system, Ken gets to stay on as the permanent host.”
“You’re doing an AMAZING job. I love how you say “Thank you, Alex” at the end of every episode.”
However, Jennings denied these talks and said that he won’t be hosting permanently.
“I don’t want to have it because it means we don’t get Alex,” he said. “It’s just sad for me to go out there, in a way, because I know that, like the audience, I wish it was Alex walking out at the top of the show.”
Thank you, Ken Jennings, for hosting this beloved program with such grace. And thank you, Alex.