Ken Jennings was in a difficult situation when he first stepped up to the “Jeopardy!” hosting lectern.
Alex Trebek, the beloved face of “Jeopardy!” for 36 years — and a person who had become a friend to Jennings — had died just a few weeks earlier. To mark his hosting debut, Jennings paid tribute to Trebek at the start of the episode, honoring the quiz show host for his dedication.
“Let’s be totally clear: No one will ever replace the great Alex Trebek,” Jennings said at the time, with emotion. “But we can honor him by playing the game he loved.”
Now, on the year anniversary of Trebek’s death from pancreatic cancer, Jennings returns to host “Jeopardy!” starting Monday night. And he’s once again paying tribute to Trebek in a special way.
In a new video shared by “Jeopardy!,” Jennings revealed he will be wearing a pair of Trebek’s cuff links for Monday’s game. Trebek’s wife, Jean, gifted Jennings the cuff links when he first showed up on the “Jeopardy!” set to tape episodes last year.
“And what a lovely gesture that was ... at a time that was very hard for her family, dealing with a lot of grief and a lot of challenges, she thought about ‘Jeopardy!’ and she thought about me, a person she had never even met,” Jennings said. “And I just thought, ‘What a lovely thing to do.’ She’s fantastic.”
Jennings added that it’s the only pair of cuff links he owns.
“They’re kind of a good luck charm for me here,” he said.
One year after Alex Trebek’s passing, Ken Jennings reflects on what Alex meant to him and the special gift he received from Alex’s wife, Jean.— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) November 8, 2021
We miss you every day, Alex. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/6hQkM4e4OH
How long is Ken Jennings hosting ‘Jeopardy!’?
“Jeopardy!” announced that Jennings and Mayim Bialik would split hosting responsibilities as their schedules allowed for the 2021 calendar year, the Deseret News previously reported.
“Jeopardy!” has not yet revealed any hosting information for beyond 2021, although Jennings is a front-runner to succeed Trebek as host. Currently, Jennings also works as a consulting producer for “Jeopardy!”
“I plan to be with the show as long as they’ll have me, no matter who’s hosting,” Jennings told The Ringer earlier this year.