MICHIGAN — Two former Jeopardy! contestants from Michigan are remembering Alex Trebek.
Trebek, 80, died from pancreatic cancer on Sunday.
“You’re standing out there on stage and you realize, ‘Oh, my God, the lights are down, oh God, that’s the music, they’re announcing my name,’ and then, ‘Oh my God, that’s Alex Trebek,’” said Jennifer Quail, who lives in Dowagiac.
Quail went on the show last October. She won eight games and $228,000, is 12th highest in winnings in a regular game, and tied for 9th in show history for consecutive games won, according to Jeopardy’s website.
“(Trebek) was so close to us for such a short time in terms of hours, but he impacted our lives in such a big way,” said Quail. “It’s still very strange.”
“He was sillier than I imagined him being,” said Oakland County resident Dan Inlos, who appeared on the show back in 1999. “He would joke around a lot and do odd voices.”
Inlos won just one game but describes the experience as a “fantastic memory.”
“I doubt Alex Trebek remembers the thousands of contestants that have rolled through there, but I feel this weird connection and maybe more pronounced sense of loss,” said Inlos.
Both former contestants say the show’s future is bittersweet.
“I hope that they find somebody who doesn’t try to be Alex Trebek,' ,” said Quail, "because nobody can be Alex Trebek, but somebody who understands what makes Jeopardy! great the way it is, and who can have that rapport with contestants and the audience the way that Alex did, in their own way."
Trebek hosted Jeopardy! for 37 years. His episodes will air through December 25.