As our five stages of grief accelerate with Alex Trebek’s final Jeopardy! episode set to air on Friday, consider this a fun piece of trivia to further remember the legend: Did you know that Trebek was the one who controlled the beep-beep-beep signal when no contestants knew a clue answer? As opposed to, like, a glib computing system named Watson with a timer? This revelation came to us via a new Ringer article, which was previously buried in a separate piece published in December. Bob Bergen, who hosted the short-lived kids spinoff Jep! for the franchise, said he was shocked to discover Trebek’s discreet involvement while touring the studio in the ‘90s. This might be the sole case of a secret button being good.
“The very first day, Harry [Friedman] is showing me the podium with the button,” Bergen recalled to The Ringer. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, there’s no set time? Do you edit it down so people don’t go, How come he had ten seconds and he had four?’ He said, ‘Nope, and nobody in the history of the show has ever questioned it.’” Prominent contestants Ken Jennings and Buzzy Cohen have since confirmed this little-known fact, with Jennings tweeting back in December, “I didn’t learn this until last year and I really had to re-evaluate my life.” What’s next? Did Trebek serve as his own boom operator, too?