Mind-Blowing Facts You Never Knew About Jeopardy!

‘Jeopardy!’ is more than just a game show, it’s a part of American culture. The classic show has been running for several decades now, with several generations of Americans growing up listening to Alex Trebek’s amusing one-liners and yelling out answers at their TV sets. Even if you’ve watched a lot of the show, there’s a lot you surely don’t know about it.

Announcing His Battle with Cancer

Alex Trebek, the 78-year-old host of the long-running game show, announced live on an episode of ‘Jeopardy!’ that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. And that was at the beginning of his illness. Amazingly, Trebek didn’t miss a day of work, even while he was undergoing chemotherapy. ‘It wouldn’t be right for me to walk away from this if I can possibly do it and I managed to do it,” he said. “So what’s the big deal?”

Source: YouTube

He discovered the illness after feeling constant pain in his stomach which led to finding a bulge in his stomach that was “the size of a small fist.” He said that he’s been wearing a hairpiece to deal with the hair loss that results from chemotherapy. “My mother passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 95,” Trebek said. “So, if I have a majority of her genes, I should be okay for a while.”

The Man Who Won $1.69 Million

This is James Holzhauer – the man that won $1.69 million on ‘Jeopardy!’ which makes him the newest record holder for the highest amount won on the show. And believe it or not, his time in the spotlight isn’t over yet. He’s returning to the show this month. The best part about this is that he donated a large sum of his winning.

Source: CNBC

The Las Vegas native and his wife have donated to The Las Vegas-Clark County Library, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum and the Ronald McDonald House in Las Vegas.  Curious as to how he got so successful at the game show? He credits reading children’s books from the library as the key to his success (hence the donation to the library). Yay for reading!

Horrifically Horrendous Handwriting

Have you ever noticed that Jeopardy! Contestants always seem to have absolutely awful handwriting? There are plenty of times when host Alex Trebek and the audience watching at home can’t even read what has been written.

Source: eternallifestyle.com

Well, this isn’t actually the fault of the contestants. They have to write on a little screen using an oversized stylus, so it’s very tricky to write as well as they usually would.

A Very Happy Ending

One of the most memorable contestants of all was undoubtedly Eddie Timanus. He was the show’s first blind player and had to use braille to read the categories and type his answers out on a keyboard.

Source: Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

He went on a five-game win streak and earned $90,000. Not only that, his future wife saw him on TV and tracked him down to go on their first date!

You Can’t Buzz When You Want

Like most game shows, contestants have their own buzzers on Jeopardy! to signify that they’re ready to answer a question, but they can’t actually hit the buttons anytime they like.

Source: Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

The buzzers are fitted with ‘buzzer enablers’ that only turn on when Alex Trebek has finished reading the question. This was done to prevent people from continually buzzing and making loud noises before Trebek could even finish talking.

Jeopardy! Has a ‘Clue Crew’

As previously stated, there’s a big team of people working on the creation of each and every episode of Jeopardy! The questions have to be written and fact-checked, the set has to be prepared, etc.

Source: Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

There are also video clues to take into account. These are made by the show’s ‘Clue Crew,’ who have traveled over a million miles all around the world to make the video clues for the show.

Getting Onto The Show Is An Achievement

Winning an episode of Jeopardy! is a big challenge, but even getting onto the show in the first place is quite an accomplishment. In fact, Jeopardy! Has some of the strictest entry requirements for prospective contestants.

Source: Emily Yahr/TWP

To get on the show, you have to ace an exam with 50 questions on it. You only get 15 minutes to finish the exam, too, so you have to answer each question very quickly.

It Wouldn’t Be The Same Without Johnny

Two people make Jeopardy! Work so well. Alex Trebek, the host, is one of them, but the other big name that should never be forgotten is Johnny Gilbert.

Source: Fandom

Gilbert, who is in his nineties now, is the announcer for the show and has held that position since it started up in 1984. Gilbert has a significant history in game show announcing, working on shows like Pyramid, The Price is Right, and others.

The Short Straw

There’s something very strange about the Jeopardy! Contestants that you probably never noticed before; they all seem to be precisely the same height! No, it’s not a particular part of the contestant selection process, it’s actually a production trick.

Source: Washington Post

Each contestant is actually standing on a platform that can raise or lowered to match up with the heights of the others. This is done to put each contestant on a ‘level playing field,’ so to speak.

Alex Trebek Only Missed One Episode

Alex Trebek has been hosting Jeopardy! Since 1984 and has been the face of the show for all that time. He films multiple episodes each day and has prided himself on never missing a single episode. Well, except one.

Source: bustle.com

Back in 1997 on April 1 (April Fool’s Day), Trebek decided to organize a little prank with Pat Sajak, host of Wheel of Fortune. The pair traded places and hosted each other’s shows to put some big smiles on the faces of the audience members.

A Little Background on Alex Trebek

When thinking up exciting facts about Jeopardy!, many people will tell you that Alex Trebek is actually Canadian. This is true, and many fans of the show will be familiar with this fact.

Source: CBC.ca

What they might not know, however, is that Trebek had a history in game shows. He hosted a high school quiz called ‘Reach for the Top’ in Canada before heading over the border into the United States.

The Jeopardy! We Know Is Technically A Reboot

The current version of Jeopardy! has been on the air for so long, it feels like it never really had a beginning and may never have an end, but the show in its current form is technically a reboot!

Source: Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

In fact, the original Jeopardy! Started off in 1964 and ran through until 1975 on NBC. The show then had a brief revival in 1978 but had to wait until 1984 for its full reboot, which has been on the air ever since.

There Isn’t Always A Winner

The whole point of a game show is to have a winner, right? Well, in the case of Jeopardy! It is actually possible for an episode to end without anyone actually winning, but this only happens very rarely.

Source: usmagazine.com

In thousands of episodes of the show, there have only been seven cases of a ‘no-win’ game, so it’s highly unlikely you’ve ever actually seen one unless you watch every episode religiously.

Alex Trebek Has Famous Facial Hair

Over the years, Trebek has become famous for his facial hair. He had a classic mustache for around thirty years before shaving it off, which came as a huge shock to fans of the show.

Source: WireImage Ron Galella Ltd.

After a few years, the show actually ran a poll to let fans vote on Trebek’s new facial hair, and he now has a stylish silver beard.

The Show Has Some Hardcore Fans

Every show has its ‘fandom’ with the hardcore fans going to great lengths to know all there is to know about the show. Jeopardy! is no exception. Online, you can find the ‘J-Archive.’

Source: adafruit.com

This is a website dedicated to Jeopardy! And it contains all of the categories, questions, and answers that have ever been featured on the show. With thousands of episodes, that’s a whole lot of knowledge.

A Crazy Conspiracy Theory

There are all sorts of conspiracy theories out there, and there are even a few about Alex Trebek! Some people have also suggested the Jeopardy! Host might be a robot because of his serious demeanor and unflinching gaze.

Source: Saturday Night Live – RSSing.com

Saturday Night Live did an amusing spoof of Trebek, with Will Ferrell in the lead role, and a metal band named Zion Grove even wrote a song called ‘Alex Trebek Is a Robot.’

A Very Exclusive Club

You’ll have to be a real genius to enter Jeopardy!’s exclusive ‘300 Club’. How do you get in? Well, access to this club is reserved for people who managed to answer at least 300 questions correctly on the show.

Source: hollywoodreporter.com

So far, there are only 19 people who have managed to enter the 300 Club, which proves that the show doesn’t pull any punches when writing up some of its questions.

The Show Originally Had Another Name

Back in the pre-production stage, Jeopardy! was just an idea in the mind of Merv Griffin. He worked alongside his wife, Julann. In fact, it was allegedly Julann who thought up the main idea while taking a flight from New York.

Source: AbeBooks

When Griffin then pitched the show to NBC, he called it ‘What’s the Question?’ but the executives decided to give it a new, shorter name to be more catchy and memorable.

Most Contestants Earn Some Nice Prizes

Game shows live or die by the size of their prizes. If a show can only offer low prices, it just doesn’t seem as exciting or interesting to either watch or tries to take part, but Jeopardy! Definitely excels in this area.

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The second and third place contestants only walk home with $2,000 or $1,000, but the winners receive an average of $40,467.40, with millions of dollars being given away over the years.

Alex Trebek Never Stops Changing

Anyone who ever watches Jeopardy! will know that the show’s host, Alex Trebek, always wears a classy suit. Now you might be wondering how many of those suits Trebek actually has backstage.

Source: vanityfair.com

The answer might shock you: he has over 100 suits in total! This is because, due to the way the show is filmed, Trebek has to change into five separate suits each day and get them all washed.

Always Keep A Dollar Back

We’ve seen that it is possible for episodes of Jeopardy! to end without a winner, and if that happens, everyone goes home with nothing and a new set of contestants arrive to take their places.

Source: Twitter/@mannyabell

The show’s creators have issued a helpful hint to prevent no-win games; they encourage players to always keep a dollar back when wagering. That way, even if the other players finish with $0, you’ll still have more cash than them and be the champion of the day.

The Show Is A Prize Winner

Every contestant who arrives on the show floor of Jeopardy! Hopes to head home with some big prizes after answering questions successfully and making it through to the final rounds, but the show itself has won some impressive awards too.

Source: jeopardy.com

In fact, throughout its run, Jeopardy! Has won no less than 33 Daytime Emmy Awards and even won a Peabody award as well. It’s also been ranked as one of the top game shows by countless experts.

Alex Trebek Was Not The Original Host

Alex Trebek is synonymous with Jeopardy! Nowadays. It’s impossible to think of the show without him, and many younger viewers wouldn’t even know that he wasn’t actually the original host of the show.

Source: imdb.com

In fact, the very first host of Jeopardy! was Art Fleming, but Trebek took over the reins in 1984 and hasn’t stopped since then. Fleming earned two Emmy nominations during his time as host of the show.

Merv Griffin Was A Multi-Talented Man

The show’s creator, Merv Griffin, was an exceptionally talented and skilled man who seemed to excel in everything he did. Before he got into the creation of game shows, he was a singer.

Source: playvk.com

One of his biggest ever hit was the classic “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts,” which sold several million copies upon its release and made it to the top spot on the Hit Parade.

There Have Been More Than 7,000 Episodes

Jeopardy! is one of the longest running shows of all time. The show’s 35th season started in September of 2018, meaning that there have been more than 7,000 episodes of Jeopardy! So far.

Source: dailyhive.com

Behind the scenes, Alex Trebek and co can film up to five episodes in a single day and shoot for around 46 days each year, resulting in well over 200 episodes being shown each year.

The Master of Jeopardy!

So who is the best ever Jeopardy! Player? Well, that honor has got to belong to the one and only Ken Jennings. Jennings currently holds the record for the longest ever Jeopardy! Streak.

Source: thoughtco.com

His reign occurred back in 2004 when he managed to win a whopping 74 games in a row before finally being dethroned. For viewers, Jennings’ run lasted for months, but it was actually all filmed in a couple of weeks.

The Biggest Cash Prize

The name ‘Brad Rutter’ merely is legendary in the quiz show world, and another hardcore Jeopardy! The fan will undoubtedly be familiar with the man from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Rutter is the highest-earning contestant in Jeopardy! History.

Source: vanityfair.com

In total, he has earned over $4.3 million from the show and has earned plenty of cash on other game shows as well. He and Ken Jennings have been typically ranked as the best players in the history of the game.

Not An Original Idea

We’ve seen that Jeopardy! Came from the creative minds of Merv Griffin and his wife, Julann Griffin, and the structure of the show really is genius in the way that it forces contestants to think about the questions, rather than the answers.

Source: Youtube

However, this idea had actually been done before! A show called ‘CBS Television Quiz’ had used the exact same format of making contestants guess a question from an answer, but it wasn’t anywhere near as successful as Jeopardy!.

Merv Griffin Even Wrote The Music

Merv Griffin has a rich history in music, having worked as a radio singer with an orchestra and written several songs of his own. So, when it came time to make Jeopardy!, he decided to write the theme tune too.

Source: quora.com

Griffin said he only spent a minute making up the show’s music, which was initially meant as a lullaby for children, but that single stroke of creativity earned him tens of millions of dollars in royalties.