The death of beloved game show host Alex Trebek on November 8, 2020, rocked the world. He was a skilled TV personality, but there was so much more to him behind the scenes.
His net worth was at least $75 million. And he realized that this put him in a fortunate enough position to help the rest of the world. He turned several Jeopardy episodes into charity giveaways, started his own organization to give to his favorite causes, and more.
Like and subscribe for more on the life and death of this inspiring man. Watch our video to learn about all the touching gifts Alex Trebek left behind when he died.
His Gift to Ken Jennings
Ken Jennings holds several Jeopardy records, including the most consecutive wins at 74 and the highest winnings at $2,520,700. As a memorable part of the show’s history, he was one of the first names considered when it came time to choose a guest host. He began only a few weeks after Alex Trebek’s death and felt his presence in the studio the entire time.
Alex’s widow Jean left behind a sentimental gift for the former champion. A producer handed Ken a box that contained the cufflinks he wore on stage. They’re the only pair he owns to this day, and he considers them a lucky charm.
His Donated Wardrobe
When Alex died, it up to his family to decide what should done with his assets. They kept his wishes in mind and worked to keep his generous legacy alive.
Alex always known for wearing formal clothing on Jeopardy. But he would have been proud to know where it went when he no longer needed it. His family donated hundreds of clothes from his hosting wardrobe to charity with the help of Jeopardy’s costume designer. Their gift included at least 14 suits, 300 ties, 15 belts, 58 shirts, 25 polos, 14 sweaters, 9 pairs of shoes, 9 sports coats, 2 parkas, and 3 pairs of slacks.
They all went to the Doe Fund. An organization focused on providing housing and education for the homeless as well as former addicts and the incarcerated. They’ll become part of the reentry program Ready, Willing, & Able to help these individuals look their best during job interviews.
Alex’s son Matthew supports the organization and suggested the donation as a way to honor his father’s lifetime goal of helping the less fortunate. Doe Fund president Harriet McDonald expressed her gratitude for the gift.
Alex donated 62 acres of land in the Hollywood Hills in 1998. It’s now known as the Trebek Open Space. And according to the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority, provides roads and trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians.
After Alex died, the Laurel Canyon Land Trust mentioned this generous gift via a post on Facebook. They applauded his conservation efforts and called the land a gift to the citizens and animals of Los Angeles. You can still visit it today and sit in the shade of the trees he helped plant and observe the wildlife he helped give a home to.
Fighting the Disease That Took His Life
Alex contributed to PanCan or the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network 2 months after he himself was diagnosed with the debilitating disease in March of 2019.
Julie Fleshman, the CEO of the organization, wrote him a letter offering support and resources. She had no expectations of him becoming a donor or a spokesperson, but he became both. He created Team Alex who raised $60,000 for PanCan’s PurpleStride run and gave a touching speech at the event. This was only the beginning of his donations and efforts to fight and raise awareness for the disease that eventually took his life.
How Alex Protected His Favorite Animal
Alex Trebek was a lover of nature and wildlife. He chose a unique creature as his favorite animal; the musk ox. This artic ungulate became endangered in the 50s due to demand for their meat and wool. He enjoyed their strong family dynamic and thick, furry coats. He couldn’t bear to see them go extinct and became one of the largest donors to the Musk Ox Development Corporation in Palmer Alaska. Alex even visited the farm several times. And earned the nickname of Herd Godfather, and signed every honorary adoption certificate that the organization sent to its supporters.
Alex Trebek the Geographer
All of his fans knew he was smart, but what they may not know was that his favorite subject was geography. He studied atlases for fun and loved reading National Geographic in the waiting room during doctor’s appointments.
Alex wanted to spread this love to the next generation. He moderated the National Geographic Bee for 25 years and helped it become a prominent national broadcast. He also supported the Royal Canadian Geographic Society’s youth contest. The organization honored him with a Gold Medal, dubbed him the honorary president in 2016. And named their geographic literacy award after him in 2016.
Hope of the Valley
Alex focused on the less fortunate and those who needed critical resources, whether this meant food, clothing, or other forms of help. He gave to the homeless often, but there was one organization with similar goals that he focused on the most.
In January of 2020, Ken Craft received a call from Alex Trebek. His homeless shelter Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission was still being built. But the host believed in his idea and came the next day to support him. He called again weeks later to get the organization’s financial statements, then called one more time inviting Ken to his home. Before he knew it, he was opening an envelope with a $100,000 check inside it.
Ken and his wife Laurie were even invited to a taping of Jeopardy in March of 2020 where they were the charity chosen to receive a donation matching the champion’s winnings for that episode. 3 months later, Alex’s wife Jean handed him another check for $500,000. It was used to rebuild an old skating rink called Skateland into a new shelter.
Alex’s impact on Hope of the Valley is astounding, not only because of what he donated but because of how he encouraged others to donate as well. He raised their gains to 50% and increased their direct contributions to $4.1 million and thrift store revenues to $2.5 million. This allowed them to build 9 shelters with 507 beds by the end of 2020.
Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more on the most generous celebrities of all time. Keep watching to learn how Alex Trebek continued to give to the less fortunate throughout his life. And how his legacy of generosity has affected the world and the show that made him famous.
His Foundation and Other Philanthropic Efforts
In 2011. Alex hired an accountant that recommended he start his own foundation. He agreed and the Trebek Family Foundation was born. He felt that it allowed him to give out larger amounts of money and make a larger impact than giving small amounts to individual charities. The organization has given almost $14 million to over 60 nonprofits.
In addition to hosting Jeopardy, Alex cameoed in several movies, including White Men Can’t Jump, Rain Man, Groundhog Day, and Charlie’s Angels. He was a major fan of classic movies and wanted to ensure they remained available for generations to come. His organization supported the American Film Institute. He also hosted the 2011 AFI Great American Movie Quiz at the Hollywood Bowl, moderated trivia competitions on TCM cruises, hosted TCM Film Festival screenings, and more.
Alex has always been a staunch supporter of education. He donated to at least 2 colleges; his alma mater the University of Ottawa received approximately $10 million, $6.6 million of which came through the Trebek Family Foundation. His son’s alma matter Fordham University received at least $2 million over 2 years and a scholarship program for undergraduate students from Harlem.
His philanthropic efforts even extend beyond the United States. He adopted a village in Zambia with 700 residents who honored him with a banquet. It’s difficult to track all of his philanthropic efforts, especially those made before he established his organization, but it’s undeniable that he was always willing to give.
Alex Trebek’s Generous Legacy
Revealing the amount of money that Alex gave to charity is impressive, but he would have been the first to say that he was only able to give so much because of his fortunate situation as a celebrity host. It’s better to focus on the lasting impact of his efforts rather than the dollar amounts involved.
Alex Trebek’s death inspired a string of giving, and it began with the show he hosted so well. Jeopardy’s 13 guest hosts were allowed to select their favorite charity. It received a donation matching the winning contestant’s earnings during their time on the show. These efforts resulted in nearly $3 million being given to at least 15 charities in 6 months.
Alex’s philanthropic efforts were more than inspiring; they also made a major impact by encouraging others to look into giving as well. He mentioned No Kid Hungry on Jeopardy, and the organization saw 82% higher visitors to their website. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network saw 450% higher website traffic and $55,000 in donations after his death, and their November 2020 campaign was the best in their 20-year history.
Alex’s openness about his cancer struggles may have even saved lives. He always expressed his regrets that he didn’t get his stomach pain symptoms checked out sooner. This may have encouraged fans who were having the same struggles to get checked and save themselves years of pain and agony.
Alex Trebek was passionate about a range of causes and used his position as one of the world’s most popular game show hosts to help the less fortunate. He started his foundation to ensure his gifts had as much of an impact as possible, and they continue to inspire and encourage others to give as well.
Which of Alex Trebek’s favorite causes are you most inspired to give to? Let us know in the comments below. Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more on the most impactful ways that major celebrities have used their money and clout.