Former local ‘Jeopardy!’ contestants reflect on Alex Trebek’s legacy

Alex Trebek passes away at 80 years old, after battle with cancer.
Alex Trebek passes away at 80 years old, after battle with cancer.
Published: Nov. 8, 2020 at 10:23 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Alex Trebek, the long-time host of “Jeopardy!”, passed away Sunday after his battle with pancreatic cancer.

19 News takes a look back with former contestants on Trebek’s lasting legacy.

“Always been a huge fan. It’s a show that I watched with my parents pretty religiously growing up,” said Steven Oppenheim, an accountant, and former contestant.

“It’s hard to picture that show without him,” said Matt Kish, a North Royalton teacher and former contestant.

Trebek, the long-time host and pillar of “Jeopardy!” passed away Sunday, after a nearly two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old.

19 News spoke with former local “Jeopardy!” contestants last year after Trebek announced his cancer diagnosis.

Matt Kish, who appeared on the show early last year, says Trebek was never just a host.

“He’s into the game. He’s not just running a show he’s observing it and in the breaks, he’ll complement a question he may have liked or says oh this might have been a better title for a category,” said Kish.

Steven Oppenheim competed in season 30. While contestants didn’t get to spend much time with Trebek, Oppenheim says he always made people feel comfortable.

“He knew that I was from Cleveland area, Ohio so he was actually talking about the Browns and he said yea looks like you guys got something good with Mayfield good and I was like yea you know we’ll see,” said Oppenheim.

Andrew Pau appeared on the show several times including on the Tournament of Champions.

“He loves the fans, he’s a performer,” said Andrew Pau, an assistant professor at Oberlin College.

While so many people are heartbroken at the news of his death, many say Trebek’s impact on every contestant, fan, and family is ever-lasting.

“Tremendous admiration for how he’s just kept on going and I think that’s an inspiration to all of us,” said Pau.

The final episode Trebek is set to appear on will air on Christmas Day.

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