'Jeopardy!' Guest Host Ken Jennings Reveals the Reason for the Pencil Alex Trebek Used on Set

Ken Jennings has served as the first Jeopardy! guest host for a week and a half now and aside from the positive reviews he’s received from viewers, has provided some behind-the-scenes tidbits that have been a pleasure for longtime fans of the game show. One of those little secrets was about the pencil that he keeps on him while reading off the clues, the same gesture that Alex Trebek did throughout his illustrious run on the show.

In response to a fan who tweeted at him asking about the pencil that has been seen for decades being used by the showrunners. The answer isn’t anything shocking but does put to rest any belief that the writing utensil was nothing more than for show. “Like Alex, I’m using it to mark off clues as they’re selected,” Jennings wrote back. The one part, though, that was more so a surprise in his answer is that it actually isn’t a pencil the hosts are using, nor is it a pen. “It’s actually a long black crayon instead of a pencil or marker so it doesn’t scratch or squawk on mic.” As a few users responded back, this little piece of Jeopardy! trivia was first discovered in Trebek’s biography that came out last year.

Along with this insight, Jennings previously shared an image from his first week of hosting that gave the viewers at home a tribute to the show’s all-time winningest contestant paid to the late host. While taping the episodes for the first week, Jennings, who is the first among a group of various celebrities set to serve as guest hosts, pocketed an audience ticket that was given by a friend from Trebek’s first Jeopardy! pilot dating back to 1983. “I kept it in my pocket while guest-hosting Jeopardy! this week as a good luck charm.”

Currently, in his second week of episodes, Jennings has also been given the nod of approval from some of the show’s past players. Buzzy Cohen, who won nine games including the 2017 Tournament of Champions, gave Jennings a shoutout on Twitter, adding that he has been doing Trebek and the audience “proud.” Others included the 2020 College Champion, Nibir Sarma, who specifically noted Jennings’s “demeanor” and his ability at presenting questions and “encouraging the contestants” as a real strength of his.