‘Jeopardy!’ Legend Ken Jennings Shares What Alex Trebek Is Really Like

'An ode to our generation’s Cronkite.'

Alex Trebek
Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

'An ode to our generation’s Cronkite.'

In the face of iconic Jeopardy! game show host Alex Trebek’s recent announcement of stage 4 pancreatic cancer, the show’s most famous contestant shared his own perspective on the legendary host, as detailed in a New York Times editorial.

Jennings, who smashed Jeopardy! records with 74 consecutive wins, shared a unique perspective based on his own experience as the contestant who worked with Trebek more than any other by virtue of his own continuing success with the game.

“And now we come to our returning champion, Ken Jennings,” Jennings remembered Trebek saying during the introductions, 30 shows into his winning streak. “You may now call me Alex.”

Jennings tribute picks up from there, pointing out that unlike so many other television icons, like Johnny Carson and Walter Cronkite, Alex Trebek was always simply Alex. It was as true for contestants on the show as it was to the viewers at home.

He points out that despite the fact contestants our kept strictly separated from show personnel, including the host, everyone always asks him what Trebek is like.

“Alex Trebek fascinates America, but we don’t quite get him. He’s a game show host, but he’s not hearty or ingratiating,” Jennings wrote.

While describing Trebek as stern and businesslike during production of the show, Jennings also shared that when the cameras are off, it is often a different story, describing “a looser, even goofy” personality.

Throughout the editorial, Jennings glows with affection for the TV host, painting a satisfying picture without getting into the weeds of the increasingly grim diagnosis.

“He knows how much he means to people, and I hope it gives him comfort that so many people are pulling for him now,” he closes.

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Trebek personally delivered the news of his diagnosis to fans through a heartfelt YouTube video that was uploaded to the Jeopardy! channel on Wednesday. In the video, he shares that he would rather convey the news himself rather than let the news spread through traditional media. He also reaffirms the show’s commitment to openness and transparency with fans, regardless of the circumstances.

Trebek indicates that he has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, an unfortunately grim diagnosis. Stage 4 represents the most pervasive spread of the disease. Pancreatic cancer is also among the most commonly fatal forms of cancer.

“I’m going to fight this. And I’m going to keep working. And with the love and support of my family and friends, and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease,” Trebek said.