In an interview author A.J. Jacobs recounts in his book, The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World, Alex Trebek told the author, “I’m curious about everything — even things that don’t interest me.” That curiosity and thirst for knowledge is perhaps one of the reasons why Trebek is so incredibly smart.
Before becoming a famous game show host known for leading contestants through the trickiest trivia, Trebek graduated from the University of Ottawa in Canada back in 1961 — and if you’re visiting the campus, be sure to check out the Alex Trebek Alumni Hall building, of course. While it might be safe to assume that his studies were focused on media or performance, he actually earned a degree in philosophy. “The only reason I got into broadcasting was I needed money to pay for my junior and senior years at college,” he told CBS’ Susan Spencer in 2012. “And they hired me, those fools!” Surely he was joking, because it was definitely a smart move to bring him on and let him use his on-screen savvy and intelligence to steer a career path that eventually led him to Jeopardy!
However, while it’s obvious that Alex Trebek is a very smart person, just how smart is he?
Would Alex Trebek's high IQ mean he would dominate Jeopardy! as a contestant?
Alex Trebek reportedly has an IQ of 143, though that information is pointedly listed as un-verfied. Is that high? Let’s compare, shall we? The average person has an IQ that sits around 100, according to VeryWellMind. Although they note that “tests may vary … 68 percent of scores lie somewhere between 85 and 115.” But despite his higher than average IQ, Alex Trebek doesn’t think he’s actually all that fit to be a contestant on his own show.
“I would probably do very well against seniors, but not against a good 30-year-old. They would clean my clock,” Alex Trebek told New York Magazine‘s Intelligencer in 2012 when asked how he would do as a contestant on Jeopardy! His reasoning: “Because I’m older, I’m slower.” He was 71 at the time the interview was published.
Trebek admitted that he didn’t feel like his years of learning and trivia-based hosting could help him when it comes to going up against the lighting-speed smarts of the contestants who appear on the show. “I know more, but I can’t recall it as quickly,” he said. “We slow down as we get older. I’ve got to get it in time to beat them, to ring it and come up with the response, and I’m slower.”
That’s apparently why fans of Jeopardy! will never see the host swap spots with a contestant. In fact, when asked if that would ever happen, he blatantly and definitely told Intelligencer, “No.” Viewers will simply have to be happy with Trebek sticking with his role of being one of the best — and smartest — hosts in the industry.
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