How much is Alex Trebek really worth?

Since 1984, untold millions of households have welcomed Alex Trebek into their homes each night. The sometimes mustached, sometimes not, suave and proper, cool and collected, broadcaster has helmed more than 7,000 episodes of Jeopardy! Presiding over an extremely and enduringly popular game show for more than 30 years has made Alex Trebek one of the most recognizable and well-liked people in television history. It's also made him a very wealthy man. There's big money in syndicated television shows like Jeopardy!, and Trebek has been handsomely rewarded over the years for helping other people win large amounts of money by answering trivia questions. (Or "questioning" trivia "answers," because that's the whole deal with Jeopardy! ) He takes home a nice salary for reading clues on a board, not to mention all of his other financial endeavors afforded to him via that wealth and celebrity. Here's an investigation into the financial life of Alex Trebek. 

Alex Trebek's a very charitable guy

Education is obviously important to Trebek, judging by his charitable contributions. During the midst of a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Alex Trebek trekked up to the University of Ottawa, of which he is an alumnus, to speak at a university event. Trebek marked the occasion with a $2.1 million donation to the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue, a think tank dedicated to fostering the exchange of ideas and "enrich and broaden public debate in Canada." Trebek actually got the organization started with a $5 million endowment, meaning he's donated more than $7 million to the center that bears his name. "Democracy is at risk in many other countries of the world. Nationalism has come to the forefront," Trebek said to CTV. "Democracy always seems to triumph."

Trebek, who has dual Canadian-American citizenship, gives money to stateside institutions, too. In 2015, he donated $1 million to Fordham University, which will be used as a scholarship fund specifically for students who live in North Harlem. That same year, the Alex and Jean Trebek Family Foundation (his umbrella charity he founded with his wife) decided to endow a professorship at Stephens College in the institution's Master of Fine Arts in TV and Screenwriting.

Alex Trebek's real money is in real estate

Owning land and property is by and large a solid long-term investment — there's only so much space to go around, especially in pleasant, beautiful, and upscale areas where people want to live and those who can afford to will pay almost anything for the privilege. Alex Trebek placed a lot of his Jeopardy! earnings over the years into big and fabulous homes, estates, and acreage. 

Trebek lives in a nearly 10,000-square-foot house in the glitzy Fryman Canyon part of Studio City, California. Trebek moved in back in 1991, when he paid a relatively low $2.15 million for the home. When Trebek tired of his gigantic mansion in the Los Angeles area, he could retreat to his vacation home. Overlooking Lake Nacimiento in Paso Robles, California, the 2,595-square-foot getaway (on 30 acres) boasted a private metalworking shop, spa, and boat dock. In August 2019, Trebek sold the home (along with its furniture and large collection of recreational vehicles) for $1.3 million. The game show host has also been known to buy up and sell off huge chunks of prime California land. He once owned Windfall Farms, a 724-acre horse ranch in Creston, California. He earned about $10 million when he unloaded it in 2005.

One of Trebek's biggest and most notable real estate transactions netted him exactly no money. In 1998, he donated 74 acres of trail-lined Hollywood Hills land near Runyon Canyon Park to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. The estimated value of the land: $2 million. 

Hosting game shows is a good racket for Alex Trebek

Alex Trebek appears on TV for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for well over 30 years, but it's the magic of television and saving shows to videotape that gives the allusion he's on that Jeopardy! set every single day like some kind of 9-to-5 working stiff. The Jeopardy! crew shoots an entire season's worth of shows — about 230 episodes — in just 46 days. Those four dozen or so shifts find Trebek working his way through five episodes each and every day. So while the hours are good, the pay is amazing. According to The Atlantic, Trebek earns an annual salary of $10 million to remind contestants to phrase their response in the form of a question and to tell them, "Right. Pick again!"

That works out to a little over $217,000 per day of work, or just under $44,000 per episode. In other words, most days on Jeopardy! the life-changing amount of money procured by the winning contestant isn't as much as Trebek took home just for doing his job. According to Forbeshe's the highest-paid game show host on TV.

Alex Trebek's got a lot of money

If he's buying and selling palatial California estates as a matter of course, bringing home $10 million a year to host Jeopardy!, earning some cash from being the longtime spokesman for Colonial Penn insurance, and throwing a couple of million bucks here and there to various universities, then Alex Trebek has obviously got a lot of money in the bank. Wealth tracker of the stars Celebrity Net Worth pins his net worth in the area of $75 million. Other sources more conservatively estimate Trebek's various holdings to total $50 million. That's still a nearly unfathomable level of wealth. Fun fact: The average winning contestant on Jeopardy! gets a check for about $20,000 — and they'd need to win that amount around 2,500 more times to equal the low-ball figure of Trebek's net worth. 

So then where does it all go? In a 2014 episode of The Nerdist podcast, Trebek said that he gives a lot of his money to philanthropic causes. That has to be an understatement, because even the most lavish of lifestyles couldn't blow $50 million to $75 million.