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Alex Trebek’s final ‘Jeopardy!’ episode contestant on host’s tenacity

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What is “perseverance”? A word that the beloved “Jeopardy!” Hosts Alex Trebek and James Gilligan, a candidate on Trebek’s last episode.

Gilligan is an Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature at San Francisco State University who has tried to be a candidate on the iconic show for 30 years.

“I’ve tried it since I was sophomore,” Gilligan said during a Friday night interview about The News with Shepard Smith.

Trebek’s final episode airs Friday night. He hosted the show from 1984 for 37 seasons. He was near the end of his nearly two-year battle with pancreatic cancer when Gilligan taped the episode. Gilligan praised Trebek’s tenacity.

“It was pretty obvious he’d lost a step, but when the cameras started rolling he was the absolute pro,” said Gilligan. “This guy was a titan in the industry and never gave less than 100%. It was just amazing to see a level of performance he was able to achieve despite the struggle he was fighting.”

Trebek died on November 8, 2020 at the age of 80. A new, permanent host for “Jeopardy!” has not yet been named.

“Alex always insisted that he wasn’t the star of the show, that it was the game itself and that the entrants were the real draw and draw,” said Gilligan. “I think whoever hosts after him must have the same attitude.”

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