'Jeopardy!' GOAT contestants wear purple ribbons in support of pancreatic cancer

The ribbons represent the fight against pancreatic cancer, which Alex Trebek was diagnosed with last year.
ABC's "Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time"
Brad Rutter, Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer stand behind their podiums in the "Greatest of All Time" series that began airing on Jan. 7, 2020.Eric McCandless / ABC via Getty Images

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/ Source: TODAY
By Samantha Kubota

The “Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time” contestants wore purple ribbons in support of pancreatic cancer research for the first episode of the best-of-seven series that aired Monday night.

Brad Rutter, Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer all returned to the familiar stage with purple ribbons pinned to their clothes.

The three "Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time" contestants pose for a photo with their purple ribbons on display.Eric McCandless / ABC via Getty Images

In March, host Alex Trebek revealed he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

This isn’t the first time contestants have donned the purple ribbons in the fight against pancreatic cancer. In November, the show dedicated a moment to 2018’s Teachers Tournament champion, Larry Martin, who passed away from the disease.

The "Greatest of All Time" series will return Wednesday night.Eric McCandless / ABC via Getty Images

The Associated Press reported Trebek struck a resolute but realistic tone in discussing his diagnosis recently. During the taping of the “Greatest of All Time” episodes, Trebek mentioned to a senior producer he was “struggling a bit” on stage, but was assured no one noticed.

“I said, ‘Well, I noticed,'” Trebek said. He has been on “Jeopardy!” since 1984.

Jennings, or KenJen as he’s known to his followers, told the AP he doesn’t see Trebek falter despite having good days and bad days.

“The chemo is rough, but he can always just turn it on," Jennings told the AP. "The music came on, the lights came on, he would just stride out there and nail that show like nobody else. It was exciting to see him doing so well and taking that diagnosis so bravely. To me, he’s the last of that kind of old-school broadcasters, and it’s such a pleasure to watch.”

Rutter also told the AP he occasionally drops by the studio to watch tapings of the show and is amazed at Trebek’s perseverance.

“Every time I go back, he's better than he was last time. Even with cancer, he's still held up to that standard, which is just absolutely amazing," Rutter said.

Spoiler alert! Jennings won in Monday night's episode. The series will continue Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.