“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek admits he’s already thinking about what he’ll say when he signs off from his final episode of the show.
The long-time game show host, who has been battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer, tells ABC News in a new special airing Jan. 2 that he will just ask for a snippet of time at the end of the taping to say his farewells.
“It’ll be a significant moment for me,” Trebek said. “But I’ve kind of, in my mind, rehearsed it already, and what I would do on that day is tell the director, ‘Time the show down to leave me 30 seconds at the end. That’s all I want.’ And I will say my goodbyes and I will tell people, ‘Don’t ask me who’s going to replace me because I have no say whatsoever. But I’m sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me ... then they will be a success and the show will continue being a success. And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye.”
ABC’s “What Is Jeopardy? Alex Trebek and America’s Most Popular Quiz Show” will air on Thursday, Jan. 2, at 8 p.m., just days before the “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” tournament begins on Jan. 7. Three top “Jeopardy!” alums — Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer, and Brad Rutter — will compete in a series of matches to determine who is the best of the best. The winner will take home a cool $1 million, while the other two will walk away with $250,000 each.
Trebek, 79, stunned fans in March when he revealed that he was battling pancreatic cancer. Despite a grim prognosis, he said the initial treatments looked promising. But then, in the fall, the host announced to “Good Morning America” that his cancer had returned with a vengeance and he’d need to undergo another round of chemotherapy.
Ever the professional, Trebek has kept up his hosting duties throughout his treatment — and has received an outpouring of support from his family and fans.
An especially emotional moment on the game show came in November when a Brown University student, participating in the Tournament of Champions semifinal round, made clear just how much Trebek means to many viewers.
For his final answer in the category “Famous Phrases,” Brown’s Dhruv Gaur jotted down “ ‘What is: we love you, Alex!” with a little heart in place of “love.”
“That’s very kind,” Trebek said. “Thank you.’’ His voice broke just a bit.
Steve Annear of the Globe staff contributed to this report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hayley Kaufman can be reached at email@example.com.