‘Jeopardy!’: The Story Behind Announcer Johnny Gilbert’s Jackets

Alex Trebek is the face of Jeopardy! but Johnny Gilbert is the voice. Kicking off the classic game show with the famous phrase, “This … is … Jeopardy!” for decades, fans know “America’s Favorite Quiz Show” is starting when they hear Gilbert say those three words. 

Although the announcer isn’t in front of cameras nearly as much as Trebek, Gilbert has a uniform of sorts. Trebek wears suits to put contestants through their paces with the game board while Gilbert wears jackets to announce the show. Keep reading to find out how Gilbert started wearing personalized jackets on Jeopardy! and why his collection is getting smaller. 

Johnny Gilbert starts announcing ‘Jeopardy!’ in 1984

Johnny Gilbert during a taping of 'Celebrity Jeopardy!'
Johnny Gilbert during a taping of Celebrity Jeopardy! | Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic

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The Virginia native is a mainstay on Jeopardy! as he’s been since 1984. Taking over for Don Pardo who announced earlier episodes of the game show, Gilbert joined Jeopardy! the same time Trebek did.

Both are currently in year 36 of their gigs with the award-winning game show. Today, fans wonder whether or not Gilbert will retire and hang up his Jeopardy! jacket when Trebek steps down. But for now, the game show legends continue their Jeopardy! duties. 

He breaks a world record for announcing ‘Jeopardy!’

In 2017, his 32nd year as Jeopardy! announcer, Gilbert hits a major milestone. He becomes the Guinness World Records holder for the longest-serving game show announcer to work on the same show.

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A representative from the Guinness World Records and Trebek present Gilbert with a certificate on the game show’s stage, according to the official Jeopardy! website. To break his record, an announcer will have to hold the same game show gig for more than 32 years, seven months, and 30 days. 

Johnny Gilbert wears a jacket to tape every episode of ‘Jeopardy!’

The official Jeopardy! website provides some insight about the shiny, satin jackets Gilbert’s come to be known for. According to the site, the announcer started wearing jackets during the early seasons of the show.

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Traveling with Trebek, Johnny went shopping for a jacket. Not long after, Trebek gifted the announcer a one-of-a-kind Jeopardy! jacket with his name on it. A friend of Gilbert’s working in the clothing industry then came up with a number of different jackets.

He now has only a handful of ‘Jeopardy!’ jackets 

Wearing a jacket to every Jeopardy! taping — the game show is recorded two days a week — Gilbert’s jackets have seen many seasons of the program. Today, his collection is smaller than it once was. 

“At one time, I had about 15 jackets,” Gilbert told the Jeopardy! website, “and little by little they all wore out … so now I’ve got about five jackets left.”

The announcer can expand his collection by getting a custom-made jacket or he can buy one from the Jeopardy! store. Thanks to Gilbert’s signature jacket, the show sells a similar version for about $100.

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