Why is Alex Trebek wearing purple ribbon on ‘Jeopardy!’? To honor Kansas City teacher

Chacour Koop

“Jeopardy!” contestants and host Alex Trebek are wearing purple ribbons to honor a Kansas City-area teacher who won on the show then died of cancer this year.

It was the same type of cancer that Trebek is battling.

Larry Martin, who taught at Belinder Elementary School in Prairie Village, Kansas, claimed a $100,000 prize by winning the 2018 Teachers Tournament, the Kansas City Star reported. That earned him a spot on the show’s Tournament of Champions.

But Martin wouldn’t live long enough to make the encore appearance.

He died in January of pancreatic cancer months after winning on the show.

At the time, the producers of “Jeopardy!” remembered him as complimentary to his competitors and humble in his success. They promised to honor him during the Tournament of Champions, which is airing in November.

During a show last week, Trebek said that he and contestants are wearing the purple ribbons not only as a symbol for the fight against pancreatic cancer but also to honor Martin.

Trebek announced in March that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer, CNN reported.

Gilbert Collins, a five-time champion on the show, honored Martin in a video tribute by the show.

“We just want to stand in solidarity with him, his family and all his loved ones in tribute,” Collins said. “And also we want to show our support for everybody waging a fight against pancreatic cancer, including Alex.”

Alex Jacob, a “Jeopardy!” all-star and ESPN poker tournament champion, reminded followers on Twitter that Martin is one of only two undefeated champions.

Martin taught for nearly 30 years and published a newspaper with his elementary school students for many of those, the Kansas City Star reported. He used a grant from winning on the show to help grow the publication, according to the McClatchy newspaper.

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