(WTNH/NEXSTAR/ABC) — Beloved “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek has died. He passed away peacefully at his home Sunday morning. He was 80.
He was surrounded by family and friends. The longtime game show host had been battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
He first announced the news to viewers in March of 2019, and he continued to host the show for the next 18 months. Throughout that time, Trebek was open and public about his battle with cancer.
Earlier this year, Trebek told ABC News how he imagined he would say goodbye during his final show.
“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,’” he said.
“Don’t ask me who’s going to replace me because I have no say whatsoever,” Trebek said. “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.”
“Because of the cancer diagnosis, it’s no longer an open-ended life; it’s a closed-ended life because of the terrible survival rates of pancreatic cancer,” Trebek told ABC News. “Because of that, and something else that is operating here, people all over America and abroad have decided they want to let me know now, while I’m alive, about the impact that I’ve been having on their existence.”
Shortly after the news broke Sunday, tributes from former contestants of the long-running trivia show poured in.
Ken Jennings, who won a record 74 games in-a_row, said, “Alex wasn’t just the best ever at what he did. He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I’m grateful for every minute I got to spend with him.”
Another famous ‘Jeopardy’ alum, James Holzhauer, was a contestant during Trebek’s cancer battle. He tweeted Sunday, “It was one of the great privileges of my life to spend time with this courageous man while he fought the battle of his life. You will never be replaced in our hearts, Alex.”
And Albert Thakur, who appeared on an episode just this past week, was moved to tears during a post-show conversation saying, “I learned English because of you, [Alex]. My grandfather, who raised me – I’m gonna get tears right now – I used to sit on his lap and watch you every day so it’s a pretty special moment for me, man.”
Sunday Thakur wrote he’s “overwhelmed with emotion.”
Trebek has hosted the show since 1984.
JEOPARDY! episodes hosted by Trebek will air through Dec. 25, 2020. The show has not announced plans for a new host at this time.