Alex Trebek: His popularity not in jeopardy
Indeed. Today there are websites analyzing "Jeopardy!" answers, and the show pulls in nearly 10 million viewers a night - safe to say most of them sure they'd do better than those losers on TV.
Susan Spencer admitted that she'd once tried to get on "Jeopardy!" but found the test "terribly hard."
"I barely understood the questions," she told Trebek.
"I believe the 'Jeopardy!' test is more difficult than being a contestant on the program," he replied.
"I was devastated - it took weeks to recover," she laughed.
"You flunked the 'Jeopardy!' test 15 years ago and you still can't live it down. Get over it!" he laughed.
Easy for him to take the winning and losing in stride. When he's not on the "Jeopardy!" set, he lives a quiet life with wife Jean and two kids, and would rather show off, not how smart he is, but how handy.
He's a dedicated putterer. When a local hardware store closed, he bought the inventory. "No matter what happens here that goes wrong, I probably have parts to fix it. I have a mini hardware store!"
There are things in his garage even HE doesn't know what they are - like woodruff keys.
But on the "Jeopardy!" set, Trebek is master of all he surveys.
The show keeps trying new things to stay fresh - like having Watson, an IBM computer, on the panel last year. (Watson won.)
And changing rules so contestants play as long as they win - that meant 74 times for Ken Jennings, who walked away with $2.5 million.
At 71, he's coy about retirement (vaguely saying sooner, not later), but is eager to answer a related question audiences always ask:
"Will I ever be a player on the show? No," he answered, "and I'll tell you why. Because if I were to be a contestant - say in a celebrity tournament - someone else would have to host the show. They might be younger, they might be very good!"
. . . but he won't be Alex Trebek.
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