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Ken Jennings wasn't told his guest host return was on anniversary of Alex Trebek's death

Monday marked the first time Ken Jennings appeared as "Jeopardy!" host since February. During taping, he had no clue the show would air on such an important date.
Credit: AP
This image released by JEOPARDY! shows Ken Jennings, a 74-time champion the the set of the popular quiz show. Jennings will serve as a consulting producer on season 37, which premieres on Sept. 14. (JEOPARDY! via AP)

WASHINGTON — Ken Jennings kicked off his return to "Jeopardy!" guest hosting duties on Monday, which also marked one year since the death of longtime host Alex Trebek

Jennings revealed in an interview with USA TODAY that he wasn't told during taping that the first episode of his three-week run as guest host would fall on such an important date

"Apparently, everyone was aware that we were going to air (my first episode) on the anniversary and nobody told me," Jennings revealed to USA TODAY. "They didn't want to put that in my head. So I was not told until after that it was the Nov. 8 show."

While Jennings didn't know Monday's show would fall on the anniversary of Trebek's death, he happened to be wearing a pair of cufflinks that Trebek wore on the show before. It was a gift from Trebek's wife, Jean.

Monday was the first time Jennings had served as guest host since February.

Ken Jennings Reflects on Missing Alex Trebek | JEOPARDY!

One year after Alex Trebek’s passing, Ken Jennings reflects on what Alex meant to him and the special gift he received from Alex’s wife, Jean. We miss you every day, Alex. ❤️

Posted by Jeopardy! on Friday, November 5, 2021

Back in September, "Jeopardy!" announced actress Mayim Bialik, of "Big Bang Theory" fame, would split hosting duties with Jennings for the remainder of the show's 38th season going through the end of this year. 

The decision to have Bialik and Jennings split hosting duties through 2021 came after "Jeopardy!" announced then-executive producer Mike Richards would host the daily syndicated show, while Bialik would host spin-off series. Just nine days later, Richards stepped down from his newly awarded position after past insensitive comments he made resurfaced. Richards was also ousted from his producing role shortly thereafter. 

According to USA TODAY, Jennings will be hosting the next three weeks of regular episodes and then the show will air a to-be-announced tournament.

Bialik and Jennings will "split hosting duties as their schedules allow through the end of the calendar year," the show previously announced

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