Former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings had an emotional first episode as guest host on Monday. Trebek’s final episode as host was aired last Friday and Jennings got choked up addressing his absence.

“Sharing this stage with Alex Trebek was one of the greatest honors of my life. 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… Like all Jeopardy! fans, I miss Alex. Very much. And I thank him for everything he did for all of us.”

The interim host also acknowledged that viewers may not be accustomed to Trebek’s absence at first. The beloved host filmed his final episode as host days before his death due to pancreatic cancer in December.

“Honestly, I’m with the audience. I don’t want me out here. I want to see Alex out here. I know exactly how they feel when they see anybody else behind this lectern,” he said in a promo video.

Jennings, who was crowned as the greatest Jeopardy! winner of all time last year, is first in a series of interim hosts who will rotate until a permanent host is found.

“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,” he finished.

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