One Jeopardy Prop Alex Trebek Loved That Ken Jennings Just Can't Get On Board With

Jeopardy! is a pop culture phenomenon. That’s a pretty unique claim to make about a game show that made its debut in 1964, but the franchise is as strong as ever — even despite the drama that surrounded its search for a new host to replace Alex Trebek following the legend’s death. How many other shows could center so simply around trivia and still have people clamoring to buy its merchandise? Even Trebek himself was known to carry a specific Jeopardy! item, as evidenced by a throwback social media photo. Current co-host Ken Jennings, however, isn’t quite sure he can get on board with doing the same.

A Twitter user this week posted a photo of longtime host Alex Trebek globetrotting with the Clue Crew. As he took in the picturesque views, the host wore a Jeopardy! tote slung over his shoulder. Ken Jennings, the famed Jeopardy! champion who now shares hosting duties with Mayim Bialik, retweeted the photo, commenting that he owns the same bag but perhaps lacks the casual confidence to pull off using it in public. 

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I understand Ken Jennings’ reluctance. It could be seen as tacky to wear the merchandise of your own franchise. Musicians don’t wear their own band T-shirts (at least they shouldn’t). Tom Holland’s not walking around in a Spider-Man cap. Alex Trebek shouldn’t pack his sunscreen in a tote emblazoned with his iconic game show’s title? Sacrilege! Trebek seemed to have the attitude that he could and would do as he pleased, and I actually think he pulled it off. 

Plus, who can argue with the sensibility of a good bag? For the Clue Crew traveling the world to bring the audience their clues straight from location, they’re going to need something to carry their belongings in, and you know they’ve got that merchandise lying around. That’s just good economic sense.

Now, could Ken Jennings pull it off? He may hold the all-time record for consecutive games won at 74 (Amy Schneider comes in a distant second with her recent 40-game streak), and he may now serve as part-time host, but I’m not sure if that gives him quite the same gravitas as Alex Trebek, who hosted Jeopardy! from 1984 until his death in 2020. On the other hand, Jennings has become synonymous with the trivia show much like Trebek was, and he should be proud of all of his accomplishments. I say, if you’ve got it, flaunt it! 

Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik are taking turns behind the podium through the end of Jeopardy!’s current season. The decision was made to make the former champ and The Big Bang Theory actress semi-permanent hosts after executive producer and would-be Trebek replacement Mike Richards was fired for resurfaced offensive comments. It’s unknown if the duo will continue to share duties past Season 38 or if the game show will see more guest hosts audition for the job, as it did after Alex Trebek died. 

The longtime host died November 8, 2020, at the age of 80 after battling pancreatic cancer. Check your local listings to see Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik in action on the current season of Jeopardy!

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.