Alex Trebek is a famously cool customer, whether it’s capably moving through answers and questions on Jeopardy! or giving the word “genre” a delightfully accurate French pronunciation. He’s also heroically kept it together while undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer, which may force him to leave the show he’s hosted since 1984. But there was one moment on Monday night’s episode where he broke down — just a little, but enough to break everyone’s heart in two.
Trebek: "What is 'We love you…' oh, that's very kind. Thank you." pic.twitter.com/z3qE8GxNam
— Mark (@tole_cover) November 12, 2019
It was the first night of the Tournament of Champions semi-finals, which ended with one contestant, Dhruv Gaur, apparently drawing a blank on the Final Jeopardy question. (For the record: It concerned a “groundbreaking 1890 exposé of poverty in New York City slums,” whose five-word title begins with “How the.”) Instead of making some reckless, way-off guess, he decided to go out in style: He wrote “What is We [heart] You, Alex!”
Ever the professional, Trebek calmly read out the love letter, followed by a warm, “Oh, that’s very kind, thank you.” The crowd let loose a collective “aww,” but the host didn’t simply move on. Instead he choked back a near-sob, his voice breaking as he informed Mr. Gaur that his $1,995 wager took his total down to five bucks.
Social media can’t agree on much these days, but there is one thing: When the longtime host of Jeopardy!, who’s handled his ailment with stoicism, grace, and a sense of humor chokes up, even a little, we all completely lose it.
— sabreena (@aneerbas) November 12, 2019
— scott moffat (@scottmoffat30) November 12, 2019
Alex Trebek getting choked up at a heartfelt final jeopardy answer. The instant welling up of tears and emotion no viewer expected to have tonight. what a moment. #weloveyoualex pic.twitter.com/DVcMGKl8wj
— Kelli Kubicek (@Kelli96) November 12, 2019
— balor and mox girl forever (@waitng4thtdance) November 12, 2019
Watching Alex Trebek get choked up during Final Jeopardy when a contestant burned his answer to share a special message, is more than I can handle tonight #WeLoveYouAlex.
— Amina Bobb Brattke (@AminaBrattke) November 12, 2019
— David (@941DavidK) November 12, 2019
Dhruv responded to Final Jeopardy with “we you Alex” and Alex was overcome with emotion and then I disintegrated and no longer exist#weloveyouAlex
— Kara (@karafreeman) November 12, 2019
— tblue (@tbluegator) November 12, 2019
— Robert (Not A Jr.) Downing (@xrobiie) November 12, 2019
The dramatic out-pouring of love was, naturally, countered by an avalanche of hate for cancer.
Okay I just went through the #WeLoveYouAlex tag and fuck cancer bro. I’m sobbing. Fucking fuck cancer
— ANNELISE (@whereisannelise) November 12, 2019
Alex Trebek almost cried just now
Aaaaaaand then I almost cried
— V (@v_to_the_p) November 12, 2019
The three-word question to the Final Jeopardy answer, by the way, was “Other Half Lives.”
On a related note, contestants during this week’s Tournament of Champions are wearing purple ribbons to raise recognize Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. They’ve also set up a charitable play-along on Thursday and Friday’s episodes, with viewers donating $1 to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research for each question they get correct. More information here.