How Old Is Alex Trebek, and How Long Has He Been Hosting ‘Jeopardy!’?

Beloved Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Trebek made the announcement on Wednesday in a video message for fans.

“I have some news to share with all of you, and it’s in keeping with my longtime policy of being open and transparent with our Jeopardy fan base,” Trebek said in the video.

“I also wanted to prevent you from reading or hearing some overblown or inaccurate reports regarding my health,” he added. “So therefore, I wanted to be the one to pass along this information. Now, just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.”

Trebek says his prognosis is “not encouraging”

Trebek was upfront about the seriousness of his diagnosis. “Normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging,” he said. “But I’m going to fight this.”

The game show host said he would keep working while receiving treatment and that he planned to “beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.” Trebek then injected a little levity into his announcement.

“Truth told, I have to [keep working],” he said. “Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years.” In November 2018, Trebek extended his contract through 2022.

Trebek is 78 and has hosted Jeopardy! since 1984

Alex Trebek
Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Canadian-born Trebek is one of the most enduring presences in American television. He has hosted Jeopardy! since 1984, and 10 million people tune in every day to watch him ask contestants tough questions, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The show is currently in its 35th season with Trebek as host. (Earlier versions aired in the 1960s and 1970s.)

Before landing his Jeopardy! gig, Trebek was a broadcast journalist. He also hosted several other game shows in Canada and the U.S., including Reach for the Top, Jackpot, The Wizard of Odds, and High Rollers. But it was the fast-paced Jeopardy! that turned him into the undisputed king of trivia. 

The 78-year-old Trebek has won five Daytime Emmy awards for his work on Jeopardy! and is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most game show episodes hosted by a single presenter. He’s a graduate of the University of Ottawa, where he earned a degree in philosophy.

Jeopardy! stars react to the news

Trebek recently wrapped up hosting the 2019 Jeopardy! All-Star Games, where teams made up of some the game’s most memorable contestants competed to win a $1 million prize. Many of those players shared messages of support for Trebek after learning of his cancer diagnosis.

Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings, who holds the record for the longest winning streak in game show history, called Trebek “the last Cronkite” in a tweet. He also joked that Trebek’s doctors should prepare to have their pronunciation corrected, a dig at Trebek’s famous habit of correcting contestants when they mispronounce foreign words.

Austin Rogers, who won a total of $466,000 over his 12-game winning streak in 2018, also sent his well wishes and called Trebek “a fixture in the American firmament.” Brad Rutter, whose team took home the top prize at the all-star tournament, simply said, “If anyone can beat this, you can.”

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