Final Jeopardy!: As Trebek Era Closes, San Diego Contestant Talks About Meeting Her Idol

A show featuring an eighth-grade humanities teacher from High Tech Middle Media Arts aired this past fall

NBC Universal, Inc.

The final episode of Jeopardy! with Alex Trebek will air Friday night on NBC 7, but before it does, one local teacher shared her fond memories of the beloved game-show host.

Trebek, who hosted the program for more than 37 years and 8,200 episodes, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8.

Antonette Hrycyk, who is a U.S. history teacher at High Tech Middle Media Arts, competed on the show in the fall of 2020. The episode featuring Hrycyk (pronounced "HOR-iss-ick}, was broadcast a couple weeks after Trebek's passing.

Hrycyk told NBC 7 this week that she has watched Jeopardy! since she was a little girl and was grateful she got the chance to meet him.

"It’s one of those things where you sometimes worry about meeting your idols because they might not live up to who they are, and Alex is exactly as you see him on TV," Hrycyk said. "He cracks jokes with the crew, he makes jokes with contestants. He was just really kind.”

This is the final week of Jeopardy! with late host Alex Trebek; a local contestant looked back on the first time she got to meet him.

Trebek was likely feeling the effects of his illness during the taping.

"You could tell he was tired, because, you know, it was one of his later episodes," Hrycyk said, "but he worked really hard and just did his best to make a really great experience for all the contestants and everyone on crew, too."

Like most people, Trebek's death hit Hrycyk hard.

"It was really rough," Hrycyk said, adding, "it really felt like you lost a family member in that way, because he was in everyone’s living rooms for so long."

Still, the eighth-greade teacher said she understood why Trebek hosted the show nearly up to the end of his life.

"It seems that he spent his last days doing what he wanted to do, and that was a nice comfort to a lot of us," Hrycyk said.

USD assistant professor T.J. Tallie won the game show on Monday night. Video courtesy of Jeopardy! Productions Inc.

Hrycyk said she planned a tribute of sorts for her students.

"Oftentimes when we have this passing of a celebrity or historic figure -- as I think Alex is -- I often give my students a chance to reflect on what it means to them and how it relates to their own life," Hrycyk said.

The teacher told NBC 7 she planned on holding her Jeopardy! lesson till next week in the wake of the historic events unfolding in Washington.

Alex Trebek's final episode will air Friday night at 7:30 on NBC 7. The program will end with a special tribute to the longtime host.

Legendary Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings will step into Trebek's role, at least temporarily, beginning on Monday. A permanent replacement has yet to be named.

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