The One Type of "Jeopardy!" Contestant Alex Trebek Hated the Most
The late quiz-show host had strong words for contestants who did this on Jeopardy!
Alex Trebek, the longtime Jeopardy! host who died this week from pancreatic cancer at the age of 80, will be fondly remembered for his loveably serious disposition, his pitch-perfect delivery, and his always superb diction. But in real life, America’s favorite quiz-show host for nearly four decades had some strong feelings about certain Jeopardy! contestants. Read on to find out the iconic game-show host's contestant pet peeve, and if you're a Jeopardy! super fan, see if you can answer our roundup of The Toughest Daily Double Jeopardy! Questions Ever Posed.
In in a wonderfully wide-ranging and revealing 2018 interview with Vulture, Trebek revealed everything from how Frank Sinatra was a secret Jeopardy! fan to what he believed to be the secret to his enduring appeal for several generations of TV viewers (“One reason why a host can succeed for a long time is by not offending,” he said). But he also came out with the one type of Jeopardy! contestant that would continually test his nerves every time they came on the show: the contestant who tries to “disrupt” the natural flow and progression of the answers by randomly choosing ones across the board.
“What bothers me is when contestants jump all over the board even after the Daily Doubles have been dealt with,” Trebek revealed. “Why are they doing that? They’re doing themselves a disservice. When the show’s writers construct categories they do it so that there’s a flow in terms of difficulty, and if you jump to the bottom of the category you may get a clue that would be easier to understand if you’d begun at the top of the category and saw how the clues worked. I like there to be order on the show, but as the impartial host I accept disorder.”
So if you ever saw a contestant start their turn with, “I’ll take ‘Edible Rhyme Time’ for $1,000, Alex”—when no one has touched the $200 through $800 boxes—it’s a good bet that Mr. Trebek was holding back a little bit of anger behind that mustache.
Those contestants weren't the only ones who could get on his nerves, however. In the same interview, Trebek noted that contestants who were clueless in certain categories utterly flummoxed him.
He recalled an instance in which the clue was about the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. “The gaps in people’s knowledge never cease to amaze me. And on occasion, all three players have the same gap," he recalled. "But football? America’s game?”
For any fan of Jeopardy!, it was always a source of pleasure to see the eternally upright and polite Trebek adopt an annoyed and condescending air. When contestants bet little money on a Daily Double, he couldn't help himself. "I have been disappointed when contestants made conservative wagers because they don’t realize the obvious," he went on. "And that is, if a clue is in the second box from the top, it’s going to be easier than a clue at the bottom of the category. So if you’ve landed on what should be an easier Daily Double clue, why not take a chance? I do joke about it." And if you're wondering about the fate of Jeopardy!, know that This Is Who Alex Trebek Wanted to Replace Him as Host.