‘Jeopardy!’ contestants share stories and words of support on Alex Trebek’s diagnosis

‘Jeopardy!’ contestants share stories and words of support on Alex Trebek’s diagnosis

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - “Jeopardy!” has been one of the most popular shows on TV for many years. And Alex Trebek is the face and the spirit of the game.

But his very public battle with pancreatic cancer has hit fans of the show pretty hard. Former contestants are weighing in on his decision to be so public with his diagnosis.

“When he first went public, he was very cool and matter of fact, determined that it’s not going to stop me,” said Matt Kish.

Kish, a North Royalton teacher, appeared in two shows on Season 30.

Former Jeopardy Contestant, Steven Oppenheim.
Former Jeopardy Contestant, Steven Oppenheim. (Source: Steven Oppenheim)

“I was also very impressed with how brave he’s been about it, not trying to hide it at all knowing that being in the public eye, people will be analyzing his appearance and actions trying to see if he is deteriorating,” said Steven Oppenheim.

Oppenheim, an accountant, appeared in two shows earlier this year.

Andrew Pau, an assistant professor of music theory at Oberlin College, and recent participant in Jeopardy's Tournament of Champions, says he admires Trebek for his honesty and bravery about his pancreatic cancer. He thinks it's important for others suffering from the same illness to know there are people who share their experiences.

“It makes him more of a superhero than we already think he is, that he can do anything. He knows everything there is to know about any subject and he’ll work through this illness,” Pau said.

So what do these former contestants think about Jeopardy’s future when Trebek is no longer hosting?

“They’re not going to retire a show that’s arguably the most popular game show in the U.S.,” said Oppenheim.

Former Jeopardy contestant, Matt Kish
Former Jeopardy contestant, Matt Kish (Source: Matt Kishfrefre)

Kish recalled a moment during one of the shows he was on. Trebek had just signed a new three-year contract.

“When it was announced the audience, contestants, entire crew erupted in applause and cheering because to a lot of people, he is the show,” he said.

He believes the show will continue for years to come.

“The little I know of Alex, that’s what he would want,” Kish said.

“I would hope the show goes on but it will be very different,” said Pau.

As for who might eventually replace Trebek, Pau says his money is on Ken Jennings, the Jeopardy contestant who holds the longest record for wins.

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