British Columbia

B.C.'s 3-time Jeopardy! winner reflects on his time with Alex Trebek

A B.C. teacher who won more than $67,000 on the U.S. quiz show Jeopardy! two years ago says host Alex Trebek impressed him with his wit and handshake.

Ali Hasan, who won $67K on the show, recalls long-time host's wit and handshake. Trebek, 80, died Sunday.

Ali Hasan, who lives in New Westminster and teaches in Surrey, won three episodes of the U.S. quiz show Jeopardy! in 2018. (Antonin Sturlese/CBC)

A B.C. teacher and two other former Jeopardy! contestants from British Columbia still remember their good times with host Alex Trebek, who died Sunday at the age of 80 from pancreatic cancer

Ali Hasan, who lives in New Westminster and teaches in Surrey, won more than $67,000 during three episodes on the U.S. quiz show two years ago. Trebek, who was born and raised in Canada, dubbed him the "one-man invasion" at the time.

Hasan says Trebek impressed him with his wit and handshake. 

"I remember two things from that time," he said. "How fast he was in coming up with these jokes and these zingers and his wit was just amazing. And the other thing was his handshake. When we got to shake hands, his handshake, I remember, was so firm and so strong."

Kamloops' Mike Garrett, who competed in Jeopardy! in 2012 but didn't win any awards, remembers the host's encouragement to him on the show.

"I was flailing away very badly early on in that game and was in the hole very deeply," Garrett told Shelley Joyce, host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops. "But there was always these little words of encouragement from Alex, telling me, 'I know Mike knew that, but he panicked on that one, and I'm sure he'll get back in the game.'"

Trebek was a former CBC broadcaster who ended up hosting the popular U.S. quiz show Jeopardy! for more than three decades.

In March 2019, Trebek announced in a video message that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

As host of Jeopardy!, he was known for his crisp and unflappable manner.

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek on the set of the famous quiz show. (Jeopardy!/The Canadian Press)

Hasan, 40, said he first started watching Jeopardy! was when he was a child living in Bahrain and quickly got hooked.

He followed the show for 25 years before finally joining as a contestant.

"Just such an amazing personality," Hasan said of Trebek.

"I just always wanted to meet him. And I'm glad I got the opportunity."

B.C.'s 3-time Jeopardy! champ reflects on his time with Alex Trebek

2 years ago
Duration 0:24
New Westminster's Ali Hasan won $67,801 on the show in 2018.

Prince George physician Matthew Church, 33, won $31,000 over two Jeopardy! episodes when studying medicine at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., in 2013. He grew up watching the show with his grandfather.

"Jeopardy! is probably the one most constant thing in my life," he told Carolina de Ryk, host of CBC's Daybreak North. "Alex has been a fixture in my life for probably 20, 25 years."

Church says he tried the Jeopardy! online quiz "on a whim" and didn't expect to be selected from hundreds of fans to compete on the show in California. He almost missed the chance to meet Trebek in person.

"This [email invitation to compete in Jeopardy!] was in my spam box." he said. "I could have missed this huge opportunity." 

Many fans and former contestants have reacted to the news of Trebek's death, some placing candles and memorabilia at his spot on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto.

'He will be missed'

Hasan said that people knew this day was coming, but it's "still devastating."

"We were prepared for it. And yet even with that preparation, just hearing about it, it's just awful," he said.

Between tapings of the show, Hasan said Trebek would often take questions from the audience. When Hasan was on the show, many of those questions were about Canada's participation at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

"He just showed throughout how much pride he had in Canada," Hasan said. "He was still the little boy from Sudbury.

"He will be missed."

With files from Daybreak Kamloops and Daybreak North


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?