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Jeopardy!
Jeopardy! remains a favourite for many U of O students. Image: Jeopardy!/YouTube.

A look back at the best moment from Alex Trebek’s 37 years on the show

After a battle with pancreatic cancer, Alex Trebek died at the age of 80 on Nov.8. Trebek, a University of Ottawa grad, is best remembered as the legendary host of Jeopardy!, which has been frequently cited as the greatest game show of all time. 

Over the course of his 37-year career, there have been many memorable moments: here are ten of our favourites. 

10. What is a threesome? 

In 2011, contestant Kara Spak’s answer to the question, “if Andy yearns for Brenda and Brenda cares about Charlene who pines for Andy, the three of them form one of these” became a viral sensation when she guessed, “what is a threesome?”

The correct response was a love triangle.

9. Who is Kebert Xela?

On an episode of Family Guy, a contestant on Jeopardy! sent Trebek to the fifth dimension by saying his name backward. In 2007, returning champ Jared Cohen was in the final round with only $1. Knowing that he couldn’t win the game, he answered, “Who is Kebert Xela?” 

Cohen had to explain to a confused Trebek, “I heard that sends you back to another dimension.” 

Quick-witted as ever, Trebek replied,“to another dimension? Yes, I will go back to another dimension as soon as we deal with the other players.”

8. What is a sport? 

In 2018, when all three contestants came up blank on the first three questions during the category “Talkin’s Football,” it prompted Trebek to quip, “I can tell you guys are big football fans.”

After the fourth clue failed to elicit any answers, Trebek joked, “let’s look at the $1,000 clue, just for the fun of it. If you guys ring in and get this one, I will die.”

No one ventured a guess on that one either.

7.  Who is Elisa?

Although this bonus 2014 clip never made it to air, it shows that Trebek is just a human like the rest of us. 

During the interview portion of the episode, Trebek started talking to contestant Elisa Korb about the time she slept in the Tower of London. However, it was actually another contestant, Catherine Hardee, who had stayed there. 

Korb admitted “I went along with it. I’m sorry. I just wanted to make you feel good,” adding “I’ve slept in Grand Central Station.”

6. Where are your pants? 

Another moment never shown on air, this clip was included as a bonus feature on a Jeopardy! DVD. Before the 2005 final game of the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, the contestants had jokingly asked to play without pants to alleviate the tension.

Not one to not be left out, Trebek came on stage pantless. Asking the cameraman to check to see if the contestants had stayed true to their word, the camera panned to show all three with their pants still on. 

5. Who is some guy in Normandy? 

This moment goes down as the best wrong answer in Jeopardy! history. 

At the 2013 Jeopardy Teen Tournament, contestant Leonard Cooper found himself in the lead. 

The final category was ‘Military Men,’ and the question was: “On June 6, 1944, he said, ‘The eyes of the world are upon you.’”

Cooper bet $0 on his answer “who is some guy in Normandy… but I just won $ 75,000.” His answer could have easily lost the game because he had no way of knowing that his fellow contestant Nilai would give the wrong answer. Luckily, the teen ended up winning the game and $75,000. 

4. Who is the winner? 

First aired in 1984, it took Jeopardy! almost 23 years for the first-ever three-way tie that didn’t include scores of zero at the end of Final Jeopardy.

In March of 2007, all three contestants (Scott Weiss, Jamey Kirby, and  Anders Martinson) managed to get the Final Jeopardy question correct, which resulted in them all finishing with a total of $16,000.

All three contestants were invited back the following day to break their tie, marking  the first (but not the last) time a three-way tie took place.

3. What is a hoe? 

Appearing on the show following the 2003 rule change to allow contestants to play for more than five consecutive appearances, Ken Jennings achieved the yet-to-be beaten record of 74 consecutive wins and won over $2 million. 

Perhaps his most unforgettable answer on the show came during the category ‘Tool Time.’ The question asked, “This term for a long-handled gardening tool can also mean an immoral pleasure seeker.” 

Jennings buzzed in and answered, “What is a hoe?” 

Affronted, Trebek quickly quipped, “Is that what they teach you in school in Utah?” 

The correct answer was a rake.

2. What is we love you Alex?

Trebek had recently revealed that he had resumed chemotherapy for Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, when, during Final Jeopardy, contestant Dhruv Gaur answered, “what is: We love you, Alex!” which included a drawing of a heart. 

The typically stoic host became emotional and responded “that’s very kind. Thank you.” Trebek struggled to get out his next words, “cost you $1,995. You’re left with five bucks.”

1. What is Toronto????? 

In 2011, IBM developed a question-answering computer system named Watson to go head-to-head with some of the smartest quiz-show contestants out there. 

Watson squared off against two of Jeopardy!’s biggest names: Brad Rutter, who had the largest total monetary winnings, and Ken Jennings, who had the longest winning streak.

Although Watson ended up winning the tournament, it was not without some mistakes. 

The Final Jeopardy question for game one of the two-game tournament in the category, “U.S. cities”, was “its largest airport is named for a World War II hero; its second largest, for a World War II battle.” 

Watson gave “Toronto?????” as its answer, proving even American supercomputers don’t know anything about Canada.