It was the first episode in more than 36 years without host Alex Trebek, who died at age 80 in November. The last episodes Trebek taped aired last week, providing a second goodbye of sorts to the venerable game show host.
Jennings, the all-time “Jeopardy!” champion, minced no words at the start of the show.
“Let’s be totally clear: No one will ever replace the great Alex Trebek,” he said. “But we can honor him by playing the game he loved.”
In his opening tribute, Jennings praised Trebek for doing his job “pretty much perfectly.”
“And it was even better up close,” he added. “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.”
Let the record note that Tanay Kothari won the momentous game with a total of $26,800.
As for the performance of Jennings, who has taped 30 episodes, Yahoo wrote that while he was “a bit scripted and tense to start, he loosened up near the end of the episode.”
Katie Couric is also reportedly one of the guest hosts and signed on to take over for a week.
Jennings is also one of the Chasers along with fellow “Jeopardy!” standouts James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter on a reboot of “The Chase.”
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