Alex Trebek Wants the Next ‘Jeopardy’ Host to Have One Big Difference From Him

Alex Trebek has begun contemplating his retirement from hosting the game show Jeopardy. He is suffering from Stage 4 pancreatic cancer but continuing to work through it. He has been hosting Jeopardy for 36 years so retirement is legitimately on the horizon. 

Alex Trebek | ABC/Stewart Cook

Trebek was on a Television Critics Association panel for Jeopardy: The Greatest of All Time, the competition between James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. The host did offer some thoughts on who could succeed him, when the time to retire finally comes. 

Alex Trebek isn’t retiring from ‘Jeopardy’ quite yet

Although Trebek has said he’s asked the producers of Jeopardy to give him 30 seconds at the end of his final show, that doesn’t mean he’s ready to go just yet.

“I’m 79 now, and I don’t foresee that 30 second moment coming up in the near future,” Trebek said. “When you’ve been in the same job for that long a period of time and you’re in advanced years, it behooves you to think at some point about retiring. Now, thinking about retiring and retiring are two different things.”

Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Early reports of Trebek’s retirement were exaggerated.

“So somebody asked me, ‘Have you ever thought about retiring?’” Trebek said. “This was about three years ago, I’d been hosting the show for 33 years, and I was 76 years. And I said, ‘Yeah, I have given some thought to retiring. I’m not sure how it’s going to work out.’ Well, all of a sudden, that became ‘Trebek is leaving the show, and he’s planning his retirement.’ No. We’ll see what happens.”

How he’ll know when the time has come

Alex Trebek knows his health may become an issue, but he’s hanging in there as long as he can.

Alex Trebek on Jeopardy
Alex Trebek on Jeopardy | ABC/Eric McCandless

“As long as I feel my skills have not diminished too much and as long as I’m enjoying spending time with bright people like these three and working with people like [Executive Producer] Harry [Friedman] and our creative writing staff, then I’ll continue doing it,” Trebek said. “That’s the best answer I can give you.”

And it’s not like he’ll wake up one day and decide that’s the day.

“I’m not taking it day-by-day,” Trebek said. “I’m taking it month-by-month if you will.”

Alex Trebek has not written his ‘Jeopardy’ farewell 

Alex Trebek told ABC News he’d rehearsed his farewell speech on December 30, 2019. On January 8, 2020 he backtracked.

“No, I haven’t worked on it at all,” Trebek said. “I have just made a decision, and I made this decision a long time ago, that what I would do, it would be the same as when I shaved my mustache. I would do it on a whim. On that particular day, I will speak to Harry, and I will speak to Clay, our director, and tell them, ‘Give me 30 seconds at the end of the program. That’s all I need to say goodbye, because it’s going to be the last show.’”

The next ‘Jeopardy’ host can’t be another Alex Trebek

Alex Trebek has given a little thought as to who might succeed him. 

“When people ask me who I’d like to see replace me, I say, ‘Well, it’s probably going to be a woman and she’ll have to be bright. She’ll have to have a good sense of humor.’”

Trebek knew just the woman for the job too. “Let’s see, Betty White,” Trebek joked. 

Jeopardy's Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek | Sony Pictures Entertainment

Suggesting a female host for the popular game show is a great idea, but in all seriousness Trebek said he’ll stay out of the casting. 

“It’s not a decision that would be up to me and I would not make myself available to presenting an opinion,” Trebek said. “I would leave it up to the people in charge.”