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Jeopardy! Winner Tears Up Thanking Alex Trebek in Episode That Aired Days Before His Death

Contestant Burt Thakur shared an emotional story about how he learned English from watching Alex Trebek on Jeopardy! in an episode that aired days before the game show host's death.

Alex Trebeck's legacy lives on. The game show host, who died of pancreatic cancer on Sunday, Nov. 8, had a powerful impact on Jeopardy! winner Burt Thakur. 

And that's exactly what the contestant told Trebeck in an episode that aired on Thursday, Nov. 5.

When asked by Trebeck if he had any family watching him on the show, Thakur got emotional. 

"You know, here's a true story. I grew up… I learned English because of you," Thakur told Trebek, getting teary-eyed. "My grandfather, who raised me—I'm going to get tears right now—I used to sit on his lap and watch you every day. So it's a pretty special moment for me, man. Thank you very much." 

After his Jeopardy! victory, Thakur expressed his gratitude on Twitter, writing on Nov. 5, "To win something money can't buy was an indescribable experience. To be in such a diverse contest makes me proud to be an immigrant and an #American. If you watched me, will you take a bit of my smile and joy & share that with someone? We could all use a [smile.]"

Upon learning of Trebeck's death on Nov. 8, Thakur expressed his condolences by sharing a poem from Rainer Maria Rilke. "When with proud joy we lift Life's red wine up To drink deep of the mystic shining cup And ecstasy through all our being leaps—Death bows his head and weeps," he wrote on Twitter. "I am overwhelmed with emotion right now and my heart goes out to the Trebek family."

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Trebek died at the age of 80 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. The long-running game show confirmed his passing in a statement shared on Twitter.

"Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends," a message read. "Thank you, Alex."

In March 2019, the television host opened up about his cancer diagnosis. "Just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer," he shared in a video message. "Now normally the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I'm going to fight this, and I'm going to keep working."

Trebeck kept his promise to the Jeopardy! audience and pre-taped many episodes of the long-running program. His final show airs on Christmas Day. 

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