Skip To Content
    Jan 3, 2020

    17 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About "Jeopardy!" That Any Fan Will Appreciate

    I'll take Jeopardy! facts for 1000, Alex.

    Last night, ABC aired a 20/20 special called What Is Jeopardy? hosted by Michael Strahan, which featured a touching interview with Alex Trebek and his wife, Jean, at their home.

    It was a true honor to sit down with Alex Trebek and his wife, Jean. Alex is a fighter and a hero to so many, including myself. Thank you Alex and Jean for sharing your story. 🙏🏾⁣ ⁣ Check out the ABC special tonight at 8pm on @ABCNetwork.

    In the interview, Alex candidly spoke about his cancer treatment and also revealed his eventual plan for retiring from the show, saying he will keep hosting "as long as his skills aren't diminished" and that when the time comes he'd need just 30 seconds at the end of the episode to say his farewells:

    ABC

    "I will say my goodbyes and I will tell people, 'Don't ask me who's going to replace me because I have no say whatsoever. But I'm sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me…then they will be a success and the show will continue being a success. And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye."

    I think we can all echo this sentiment today and every day:

    Sony Pictures

    The special, which leads up to next week's MASSIVE Greatest of All Time tournament, was also a treasure trove of fun behind-the-scenes facts about the making of Jeopardy!.

    Eric Mccandless / Getty Images

    ICYMI, the Jeopardy!: The Greatest of All Time primetime tournament kicks off Tuesday Jan. 7 and will feature an epic matchup of Jeopardy! greats Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer, and Brad Rutter. I cannot wait.

    I highly recommend watching the whole thing, but in case you want the CliffsNotes, here are some of the facts we learned:

    1. Many Jeopardy! fans already know this one, but the production team tapes an entire week's worth of shows in one day.

    ABC

    For this reason, contestants must bring along five outfit changes in case they go on a winning streak .

    2. Jeopardy! shoots on the Sony Pictures lot, which is also where Wheel Of Fortune shoots and where The Wizard of Oz was filmed.

    ABC

    There's no place like home!

    3. On each filming day, the games are chosen at random to ensure that there's no cheating.

    Sony Pictures

    There's a pool of six games chosen for any given taping day, and the show's compliance officer picks five of them at random.

    4. The contestants for each game are also completely randomly chosen, so no one has any idea who they'll be up against.

    Sony Pictures

    5. Before taping, Alex Trebek reads through all of the games of the day — a process which takes about an hour and a half.

    ABC

    6. Throughout the taping, all of the producers follow along with a printed out script of the game board.

    Sony Pictures

    Alex has a copy too.

    7. The original title of Jeopardy! in the mid-1960s was What's The Question?.

    ABC

    The idea for Jeopardy! came after the height of game show cheating scandals in the 1950s, when Jeopardy! creator Merv Griffin wanted to create a show where contestants were given the answers.

    8. The original Jeopardy! premiered in 1964 with host Art Fleming — and it only lasted one decade.

    Sony Pictures

    9. But the Jeopardy! we know and love, starring Alex Trebek and announcer Johnny Gilbert (this…is…Jeopardy!), premiered in 1984.

    E. Charbonneau / WireImage for Columbia TriStar H

    That's 36 years!

    10. Jeopardy! holds the Guinness World Record for the longest-running quiz show of all time — at the time of this special, the show was taping episode 8,140.

    E. Charbonneau / WireImage for Columbia TriStar H

    The show also holds the record for most Emmy Awards Won by a TV Game Show.

    11. During commercial breaks, Alex Trebek takes questions from the live audience members.

    Sony Pictures

    He once joked that he'd like Betty White to replace him as Jeopardy! host.

    12. Every year, thousands of people try to be on Jeopardy! but only 450 people get to be contestants.

    ABC

    The first step is taking the online test, and if you move past that stage, you come to a nearby city to take another test and play a mock game.

    13. The Jeopardy! writers' room consists of eight writers who typically prepare around one game per day — which means 61 questions.

    ABC

    There are new episodes of Jeopardy! 46 weeks of the year.

    14. The first-ever Jeopardy! winner under Alex Trebek is named Greg Hopkins — he won $8400 dollars in 1984.

    ABC

    He was also the first person to ever buzz in on Alex Trebek's first episode.

    15. Jeopardy! creator Merv Griffin also wrote THE classic theme song.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    16. He wrote the song, officially titled "Think!," in a minute and a half on Marlon Brando's old piano.

    ABC

    Merv and Marlon lived in the same apartment building, and Marlon gifted the piano to Merv.

    17. Oh, and finally, that tune has earned A TON of money — over $80 million dollars over the years.

    ABC

    If you can't get enough of Jeopardy! tune in to the Greatest of All Time tournament Tuesday, Jan. 7 on ABC at 8pm ET.

    Sony Pictures

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form