“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to our show,” he said on the episode.
“I truly hope you folks have enjoyed revisiting some of our special tournaments throughout this past summer. But today, Jeopardy! begins its 36th season on the air and I’m happy to report, I’m still here,” he continued.
Returning champion Jason Zuffranieri extended his six-game streak during the premiere. The math teacher from Albuquerque, New Mexico, who had earned $137,300 before Monday’s episode, won his 7th consecutive game. He won the game with a score of $29,200, bringing his total winnings to $166,500.
“I’ve gone through a lot of chemotherapy, and thankfully that is now over,” he said. “I’m on the mend and that’s all I can hope for right now.”
“It’s another day at the office for me, and an exciting day because so many great things have been happening,” he said. “We had Jeopardy James last season, and got tremendous publicity for himself and for the show. We have a new champion, in Jason, this year. Typical energizer bunny kind of type.”
In the video, Trebek looked like an energizer bunny himself. The cameras captured him chatting with the audience (joking that Betty White should play him in an autobiographical film), enjoying his 79th birthday and doing push-ups before going on stage.
“We have some exciting things coming up and I can’t wait to share them with you,” he said. “Let me tell you, it’s going to be a good year.”
Despite a grim diagnosis, Trebek had said from the outset that he expects to survive his cancer.
“Now, normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging,” he said in March. “But I’m going to keep working, and with the love and support of my family and friends — and with the help of your prayers, also — I plan to beat the low-survival-rate statistics for this disease.”
“It’s kind of mind-boggling,” he said. “The doctors said they hadn’t seen this kind of positive result in their memory … some of the tumors have already shrunk by more than 50 percent.”