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12.17.2020
Burt Thakur Shares Personal Story Behind His Viral Moment
Alex Trebek onstage with Contestant Burt Thakur

In Burt Thakur’s winning moment, which aired on Nov. 5, he shared some of the details of his deep connection with Jeopardy! That moment touched a chord with viewers around the world.

But there’s more to the story. We heard again from Burt recently and he has given us permission to share it with you …

To My Jeopardy! Friends,

Where do I begin?

First, my deepest condolences. In addition to being a public persona, Alex was, I am sure to many of you, a very dear friend. I am sorry you lost your friend.

Getting on Jeopardy! was my dream since I was a little kid. Getting to tell Alex what he had meant to me and sharing that with the staff, the other players and producers was a moment, for me, that transcended the game. That was the real win. In that moment, memories of my grandfather and just being a kid with all the world full of possibilities came rushing back in a ferocious few seconds. My grandfather was my hero. He was the one who raised me. And after he died – I was very young – there was a giant hole in my heart because I felt so alone for so long. [Winning that first game] was the first time I remembered what his face looked like, in decades. So, if you want to know what Alex Trebek is to me, he’s – in a sense – the guy who brought my grandfather back into my life.

[Since then,] thousands of people from all over the world reached out and commented messages of love, and family and childhood. It brought people together and made them realize that for half an hour they could forget about life for a while and just enjoy each other. This is not only a testament to Alex Trebek, but to all the people behind the scenes who make a product bigger than themselves. Mike Richards' moving tribute encapsulated the ethos of the show – which to me and to millions of other people, is one and the same: No matter what's going on in the world, for 30 minutes, 'This is Jeopardy!'

I just want to say thank you. I hope I can use my experiences to be a good steward of Jeopardy!

With profound affection,
Burt Thakur