'Jeopardy!' Plots 'Greatest of All Time' Special Amid Alex Trebek's Cancer Diagnosis

The three biggest winners in Jeopardy! history will come together for an extra special primetime series, titled Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time, to honor the show's host, Alex Trebek. The surprising event comes as Trebek continues his fight against prostate cancer, which began earlier this year. The special matches will air like a baseball playoff series, with the first match set for Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 8 p.m. ET.

Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer, the biggest winners in the show's history, will compete in a series of matches in the hour-long show. The first to win three matches receives $1 million and will be named the Greatest of All Time, while the runners up will receive $250,000.

"Based on their previous performances, these three are already the ‘greatest,’ but you can’t help wondering: who is the best of the best?" Trebek said in a statement released by ABC Monday.

“I am always so blown away by the incredibly talented and legendary Alex Trebek who has entertained, rallied and championed the masses for generations—and the world-class JEOPARDY! team who truly are ‘the greatest of all time,’” Karey Burke, President, ABC Entertainment, added. “This timeless and extraordinary format is the gift that keeps on giving and winning the hearts of America every week. We can’t wait to deliver this epic and fiercely competitive showdown—with these unprecedented contestants—to ABC viewers and loyal fans everywhere.”

"We’re excited to bring JEOPARDY! to primetime! It’s been a long time in the making – we wanted to create a unique experience sure to wow not just our fans, but all audiences," Sony Pictures Television Chairman Mike Hopkins said. “We are thrilled to have James, Brad and Ken, three powerhouse players each worthy of the title ‘The Greatest of All Time.’ With Alex hosting this is truly going to be something special. I can’t wait to see who comes out on top!”

The first three games will air on Jan. 7, Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 at 8 p.m. ET. If more matches are necessary, another game will be played on Friday, Jan. 10. If no one has won three matches yet, the series will continue into the following weekend, with matches scheduled for Jan. 14, Jan. 15 and Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. ET.

The 79-year-old Trebek, who has hosted Jeopardy! since 1984, announced in March that he was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. It was thought to be in remission, but he revealed in September that he needed another round of chemotherapy.

Last month, Trebek appeared in a PSA to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer and urged fans to learn more about the disease at WorldPancreaticCancerDay.org.

“I wished I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I experienced prior to my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer,” Trebek said in the PSA. “Other common symptoms can include mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss, new onset diabetes and the yellowing of the skin or eyes.”

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Trebek has continued to host Jeopardy! through his illness and is signed to stay on the show through 2022.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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