On Monday, Ken Jennings hosted "Jeopardy!" for the first time after longtime host Alex Trebek's final episode aired last Friday.
Before getting into the swing of things, Jennings delivered a heartfelt message to fans.
"Sharing this stage with Alex Trebek was one of the greatest honors of my life," Jennings began. "Not many things in life are perfect, but Alex did this job pretty much perfectly for more than 36 years and it was even better up close. 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," the 46-year-old said as he held back tears. "And I thank him for everything he did for all of us."
Ken Jennings steps up to the lectern today as our first guest host – but not before honoring Alex. pic.twitter.com/uOzQ3UfqmN— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) January 12, 2021
"Let’s be totally clear: No one will ever replace the great Alex Trebek, but we can honor him by playing the game he loved," he concluded, before getting into the game.
Jennings is the first guest host to take the reins after Trebek's emotional final episode aired on Friday. Trebek died in November at age 80 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.
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In a promotional video released before the show, Jennings, who has served as a consulting producer this season and won the title of greatest of all time last year, admitted, "Honestly, I’m with the audience. I don’t want me out here. I want to see Alex out here. I know exactly how they feel when they see anybody else behind this lectern."
Ken has come a long way from his contestant days. Here are Ken's thoughts from behind the lectern as first in a series of guest hosts. pic.twitter.com/0HaxSv8mmW— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) January 11, 2021
"I’m just happy to fill in and help out," he added.
A permanent successor for Trebek has yet to be officially announced. In the meantime, "Jeopardy!" will continue to rotate a series of hosts.
Executive producer Mike Richards said in a statement, "By bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, our goal is to create a sense of community and continuity for our viewers."