Ken Jennings gets choked up in first Jeopardy! episode as guest host: 'I miss Alex'
"Sharing this stage with Alex Trebek was one of the greatest honors of my life," Jennings said, after being introduced by announcer Johnny Gilbert.
"Not many things in life are perfect, but Alex did this job pretty much perfectly for more than 36 years, and it was even better up close," he continued. "We were dazzled by his intelligence, his charm, his grace — really, there's no other word for it."
"Like all Jeopardy! fans, I miss Alex. Very much. And I thank him for everything he did for all of us," he added.
"Let's be totally clear: No one will ever replace the great Alex Trebek, but we can honor him by playing the game he loved," he concluded, before introducing the contestants and kicking off the show.
In a promo video teasing his tenure as an interim host, Jennings acknowledged that fans might not be used to Trebek's absence at first. The iconic presenter taped his final episode, which aired Friday, just days before his death from pancreatic cancer in November.
"Honestly, I'm with the audience," Jennings said in the promo. "I don't want me out here. I want to see Alex out here. I know exactly how they feel when they see anybody else behind this lectern."
"I'm just happy to fill in and help out," Jennings, who was crowned Greatest of All Time last year, added.
The former contestant is among a series of interim guest hosts who will present Jeopardy! until a permanent host is selected.
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