Ken Jennings has officially kicked off his role as interim host for Jeopardy!
Following the tragic death of longtime host Alex Trebek last year, the 46-year-old former contestant stepped in to host the famous game show Monday night. He began the show by paying tribute to Trebek, who died last November following a battle with stage four pancreatic cancer. He was 80.
"Welcome to Jeopardy! Sharing this stage with Alex Trebek was one of the greatest honors of my life," Jennings began. "Not many things in life are perfect, but Alex did this job pretty much perfectly for more than 36 years, and it was even better up close."
"We were dazzled by his intelligence, his charm, his grace, really, there's no other word for it," he continued. "Like all Jeopardy! fans, I miss Alex very much, and I thank him for everything he did for all of us. Let's be totally clear: No one will ever replace the great Alex Trebek. But we can honor him by playing the game he loved."
Trebek's tenure as host of Jeopardy! ended last Friday, with the airing of his final episode of the beloved game show. The last episode, which was filmed back in October, featured a heartfelt segment honoring Trebek's legendary mark on pop culture and TV.
Set to Peter Allen's "Once Before I Go," the tribute video featured footage from more than his three decades as host of Jeopardy! Trebek concluded what was his final show by saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for spending the time with us."
Jeopardy! previously announced that the show would still go on following Trebek's death, as a way to honor his legacy. They revealed at the time that production would resume with a rotating slate of guest hosts, including Jennings. Hear more in the video below.