Over the years, the name Alex Trebek has become synonymous with Jeopardy!. Trebek has hosted the show for 36 years, as his first episode was the show’s syndicated premiere in 1984. Since then, Trebek has hosted more than 8,000 episodes of the game show.
Trebek is 78 years old, and he has hosted Jeopardy! for the majority of his life. The game-show host currently holds a Guinness World Record for Most Game Shows Episodes Hosted by the Same Presenter, which he received in 2014 when he passed the threshold and had hosted 6,829 episodes.
Now, Jeopardy! attracts more than 10 million viewers per night. In April and May 2019 when “Jeopardy” James Holzhauer was on a win-streak on the show, the ratings grew to 13.3 million viewers per night. Nielsen estimated that 8.3 percent of all U.S. television homes tuned in.
Currently, the show is re-airing old episodes with new introductions from Trebek since no new episodes have been filmed recently due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Alex Trebek Has Been Hosting ‘Jeopardy!’ For 36 Years
Trebek has hosted Jeopardy! for 36 years, but he was not the show’s first host.
Before Alex Trebek took over the duties, the show was hosted by Art Fleming for 11 years. Jeopardy! originally aired from 1964 to 1975. The show was canceled at that time because NBC wanted to appeal to a younger demographic. It was rebooted with Fleming as the host in 1978, but it was canceled again after just a few months. Fleming passed away in 1995 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Jeopardy! did not come back on the air until 1984 for the syndicated run. Just a few years after premiering with Trebek as the host, the show hit 15 million viewers per day. Trebek and announcer Johnny Gilbert have both been on the show since the reboot.
By 1994, the press was calling Trebek an “American Icon.” The show has won 35 Daytime Emmy Awards and holds the record for the most Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show with 15 awards in that category. Trebek himself holds six Emmy Awards and a star on both the Hollywood and Canada Walks of Fame.
On June 17, 2011, Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak, host of Wheel of Fortune, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony. In 2012, Jeopardy! was honored with a Peabody Award for its role in “encouraging, celebrating, and rewarding knowledge.”
Pat Sajak has also hosted the show; on April 1, 1997, Trebek and Sajak switched places for the day as an April fools’ joke. Trebek hosted Wheel of Fortune, and Sajak hosted Jeopardy!.
Trebek’s Contract is Effective Until 2022
Though he may need to stop hosting Jeopardy! earlier than his contract ends due to health reasons, he is currently set to host the show until his contract is up in 2022. He has said he plans to continue hosting the show until his skills diminish to a point where he can no longer comfortably host or he feels as though his presence is hindering the show.
Trebek announced that he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer on March 6, 2019. His treatment causes sores inside the mouth, which makes it difficult for him to enunciate words properly in some cases. He has said he already notices the issues when he’s filming episodes.
“Under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years,” he said jokingly in the video. “So help me. Keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done. Thank you.”
Trebek is currently being treated for his disease, and in July 2020, he said that he will not go through another round of treatment if his current round does not work.