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How ‘Jeopardy!’ has honored Alex Trebek’s final wish

“During his last day on set, Alex extolled the virtues of everyone opening up their hands and their hearts to those who are suffering” — Mike Richards, “Jeopardy!” executive producer

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Trainees from The Doe Fund’s “Ready, Willing & Able” program, from right to left: Michael Smith, Joseph Calhoun and George Thomas, receive the donated wardrobe.

The Doe Fund

During what would end up being one of his final “Jeopardy!” games, Alex Trebek shared an impromptu message that had people behind-the-scenes clapping in awe.

“This is the season of giving. I know you want to be generous with your family, your friends, your loved ones. But today, I’d like you to go one step further,” Trebek said to millions of viewers at home, according to the Deseret News. “I’d like you to open up your hands and open up your heart to those who are still suffering because of COVID-19. People who are suffering through no fault of their own. We’re trying to build a gentler, kinder society and if we all pitch in — just a little bit — we’re gonna get there.” 

Now, three months after Trebek’s death, “Jeopardy!” is honoring the late host’s final wish. The quiz show has donated a significant portion of Trebek’s wardrobe to The Doe Fund, “an organization that provides paid work, housing, vocational training, continuing education and comprehensive social services to underserved Americans with histories of addiction, homelessness and incarceration,” according to a news release sent to the Deseret News.

The idea came from Trebek’s son, Matthew. The wardrobe collection donation includes 14 suits, 58 dress shirts, 300 ties, 25 polo shirts, 14 sweaters, nine sports coats, nine pairs of dress shoes, 15 belts, two parkas and three pairs of dress slacks, according to the release. The clothes will be distributed to people who are seeking new job opportunities via the Doe Fund’s reentry program.

“During his last day on set, Alex extolled the virtues of everyone opening up their hands and their hearts to those who are suffering,” Mike Richards, the executive producer of “Jeopardy!” said in a statement. “Donating his wardrobe to those who are working to rebuild their lives is the perfect way to begin to honor that last request.”

A few months ago, Richards — who will become the second “Jeopardy!” guest host once Ken Jennings’ stint ends on Feb. 19 — recalled what it was like to watch Trebek deliver that final message to his audience.

“He just walked out and did it,” he told Entertainment Weekly in December. “And you’ll see in the episode, we all started to clap, and there’s points in ‘Jeopardy!’ where you clap and there’s points in ‘Jeopardy!’ where you don’t; that’s not a normal spot. You can see (Trebek) kind of look over at us as he was crossing to reveal the categories: ‘What are you guys clapping about?’

“I had chills throughout the first taping on that Monday, because I was watching him, going, ‘How is he doing this?’” Richards continued. “He came in at a higher level than normal, and his normal was excellent.”

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Matthew Trebek and “Jeopardy!” costumer, Steven Zimbelman, pack Alex Trebek’s wardrobe for donation to The Doe Fund.

“Jeopardy!” Productions Inc.

“Jeopardy!” taped that episode in late October — 10 days before Trebek’s death on Nov. 8, according to the Deseret News. The show has not yet announced an official replacement for Trebek, but is instead working through a series of guest hosts.

“We understand the enormous loss Matt and Jean are going through, as well as their incredible resilience in the face of hardship,” Harriet McDonald, president of the Doe Fund, said in a statement. “Last week, The Doe Fund’s founder and president of 35 years, my husband George McDonald, passed away. I’m thankful that George got to see Alex’s suits delivered to the people we serve before he left us. This generous gift honors the legacies of both men, and I know they’re smiling down on us.”