Alex Trebek Talks Endorsement Deals, SNL and What’s Ahead

And why the Jeopardy! host is looking toward the exit

Trebek speaks during a rehearsal of Jeopardy! Power Players Week in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
Headshot of Chris Ariens

Alex Trebek doesn’t expect to be quizzing contestants on Jeopardy! for too much longer.

“I’ve been hosting Jeopardy! for 34 for years. And I’ve been in the business for 56. So, that’s enough,” Trebek told Adweek before an awards dinner Monday night at which Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune were inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Trebek, as well as Wheel of Fortune hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White, and the executive producer of both syndicated game shows, Harry Friedman, all spoke during the Achievement in Broadcasting dinner, part of the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas.

We caught up with Trebek, 77, to chat about endorsement deals, Manhattan restaurants and, of course, Will Ferrell.

Adweek: How does it feel to be inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame? 
Alex Trebek: It feels great. The fact that it’s coming near the end of my career makes it especially significant. It wouldn’t have done to receive this kind of recognition at the beginning of my career. I’d have developed a very swelled head, bigger than it is now.

Are you saying you’re ready to call it a career? You’re synonymous with the show. 
I don’t know about many [more years]. But I’ve got a few.

During commercial breaks, you take questions from the studio audience. What’s the one question that keeps coming up? 
They all ask about if I enjoy Saturday Night Live [and Will Ferrell’s impression of me]. But they don’t do it anymore because Will Ferrell is no longer a regular member of the cast.

Do you miss that? Do you wish they’d do it? 
Yeah. They did black Jeopardy! This past weekend with Kenan [Thompson]. And apparently that was a lot of fun. So they’re having a lot of fun at our expense and that’s wonderful. I love it. On the last show on which Will Ferrell was a regular member of the cast, Lorne [Michaels] had me walk on at the end of the Jeopardy! round. And I no longer had a mustache. But Will Ferrell was still wearing a mustache.

Have you ever been approached by an advertiser to pitch a product, and you said ‘No, that’s not for me?’ 
I have been approached and have turned down things. Just this past week I turned down an approach that was fairly significant in terms of money. I have accepted a few things in the past. I’m open. If it’s something that I feel comfortable doing. I’ve had people come to me and say, “I heard about your heart attack, would you be willing to do something for a drug company?”

And after Jeopardy! what will you do? Maybe go into the restaurant business with your son? 
No. Have you been to his restaurant?

I haven’t. 
Oso. 140th and Amsterdam. Go. And he’s opening a new place on 150th called Lucille’s Coffee Shop and Bar. Coffee shop during the day and a bar with little food items in the evening.

@ChrisAriens Chris Ariens is the managing editor and director of video at Adweek.