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Most Daytime Emmy nominees were probably hoping they’d win Sunday night, but Alex Trebek wasn’t necessarily one of them.
The Jeopardy! host was named best game show host Sunday night, beating out the likes of John Michael Higgins (America Says), Wayne Brady (Let’s Make a Deal), Pat Sajak (Wheel of Fortune) and Chris Harrison (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire).
But he said he was at first concerned about winning when he learned he’d been nominated.
“I was concerned that sympathy might play a big role,” said Trebek, who in March revealed he’d been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. “I’m not a fan of sympathy votes, because I believe you should be judged on the merits of your work.”
He continued: “However, I started thinking back to last year. I had just had major surgery to remove two life-threatening blood clots on my brain. I think that would have earned me a certain amount of sympathy, but I didn’t win. So maybe I’ve been worrying about the wrong thing, and I’ll do what Sally Field did when she won at a different venue many, many years ago, and [accept] this as a sign you like guys like me and value my work. I’ll tell you, if that’s the case, I can live with that. Thank you.”
Trebek was referring to Field’s iconic speech at the 1985 Oscars, when she won best actress for Places in the Heart, when she memorably declared: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me!”
As of Sunday, Trebek has won a total of six Daytime Emmys out of a whopping 30 nominations, and also received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
Backstage, Trebek said that winning was “special.”
“The reception I got from the audience was extremely special, very touching. We all know what’s going on in my life and I alluded to that in my remarks and I’ve been very blessed to discover how many people our show has influenced in their lives,” he said, adding: “Jeopardy has become a special institution in Americana. And it has been a force for good, a force for knowledge, a force for the best kind of reality television if you think about it. Anybody can succeed, anybody can win a lot of money, Just ask James Holzhauer.”
Of the contestant, who is on track to break Ken Jennings’ winning streak, Trebek said: “He’s been a lot of fun to watch, yes indeed. There are no areas in which he cannot do well. He has missed only one Final Jeopardy since he came on the program. And he’s coming back in two weeks after the teacher’s tournament. So you’re gonna get to enjoy James and Alex for a while longer. How ’bout that folks. This has been a special year for Jeopardy and certainly a very special, and in many ways rewarding year for me, to discover how loved I am all across America.”
Of his cancer diagnosis, he said: “If there’s a message I can put out there, it is as I discovered yesterday at the PanCan walk is that there’s hope. I ran into pancreatic cancer survivors who have survived for 22 years, 14 years, 12 years, 15 years. So there is hope. As Dr. Oz mentioned to me while we were sitting during a commercial break this evening, he said, ’You know Alex, if you developed pancreatic cancer maybe 10 to 15 years ago, it would be a lot rougher on you. But so many more new medications are available to sufferers, so many new techniques, so many new ways of dealing with the mutations…. If you’re gonna get something bad like this, you got it at a good time,’ so that’s the message I would send to all people out there and their better halves, the people who look after them, their caretakers — the people who have such a difficult, difficult chore.”
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