Alex Trebek's Daytime Emmy Speech Was Darkly Comedic And Also Perfect

alex trekbek speaking to audience jeopardy

As one of the most prolific TV hosts of any era, Jeopardy!'s Alex Trebek is a modern legend, having graced fans' lives for over 35 years. Though recent years have taken a toll on Trebek's overall health, he remains dedicated to keeping Jeopardy! on the front burner, and his stoic, clue-delivering efforts once again earned him a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host. It was his sixth win, and his 28th nomination in the category.

Though he definitely should have won many more over the years, Alex Trebek was extremely gracious about being granted the 2019 honor. With his signature suaveness, Trebek took the stage for his thank-you speech initially seeming as if he was going to get overly emotional. However, he surprisingly took things in a darkly comedic direction. In his words:

Ever since the nominations came out, I’ve been worried about this moment. Let me explain: I was a bit worried about winning. I was concerned that sympathy might play a big role in the voting this year. I’m not a fan of sympathy votes, because I believe we should all be judged on the merits of our work. However, I started thinking back to last year. I had just had major surgery to remove two life-threatening blood clots on my brain. You would think that would have elicited a certain amount of sympathy! But I didn’t win! So maybe I’ve been worrying about the wrong thing, and I should just do what Sally Field did in a different venue many, many years ago, and look at this as a sign that you guys like me, and that you value my work. And I’ll tell ya, if that’s the case, I can live with that. Thank you!

If the Daytime Emmy Awards inspired an after-show where the commentators came up with their own telecast-specific awards, I think we can all agree that Alex Trebek's acceptance speech would win out in at least one category: Most Outstandingly Perfect Speech. It had everything, from his self-effacing and self-deprecating charm to his referencing one of the most iconic award speeches of all time.

The darkly comedic tone in Alex Trebek's speech called back to his health scare near the end of 2017, when he had brain surgery. After suffering a fall in October of that year, Trebek had to get a subdural hematoma removed. His recovery efforts only affected the show in the most minimal way, and many fans possibly weren't aware that it even happened.

So maybe that general lack of awareness is why Trebek didn't get the sympathy vote to win out in the 2018 Daytime Emmy Awards. Or, of course, maybe sympathy votes aren't as widespread as people might think. Last year's winner was Let's Make a Deal's Wayne Brady, who was also nominated this year, though he couldn't top the Jeopardy! host two years in a row.

2019 struck Alex Trebek, as well as Jeopardy! fans, with the most potentially dire news yet, as it was revealed some months back that the host was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Trebek didn't back down in the face of difficult and painful recovery treatments, however, and vowed to remain Jeopardy!'s frontman throughout Season 36 as he worked to get back to full health. Give him all the awards!

For the end of his Daytime Emmys speech, Alex Trebek recalled the oft-quoted speech that Sally Field delivered when winning the Oscar for Best Actress in 1984 for Places of the Heart. Trebek gets even more credit for not misquoting Field the way many others do, as she's often misremembered as saying, "You like me, you really like me!"

Fans can watch Alex Trebek taking the Daytime Emmys win in the clip below.

In case anyone wonders why Alex Trebek only took the stage once to receive his first Daytime Emmy hosting award since 2008, it's because Jeopardy! lost out for Outstanding Game Show after winning in 2019. This year, that honor went to Drew Carey's The Price Is Right.

Jeopardy! has been in the headlines in recent weeks for reasons other than Alex Trebek's health issues, as current champion James Holzhauer is on track to potentially become the show's biggest winner ever. Already closing in on $2 million in under 25 games, Holzhauer has already demolished many previous champions' scoring records and win streaks, with Ken Jennings' mantle the only one left to conquer. (At least as far as regular seasonal games are concerned, since Brad Rutter has won over $4 million once the various tournaments are added in.)

Jeopardy! airs in syndication five days a week, so be sure to check your local listings to see when the last Season 35 episodes will be airing before the big summer hiatus.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.