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Why Alex Trebek’s New ‘Jeopardy!’ Beard Is Dividing America

Better than his old mustache? Worse? A secret Sean Connery reference?

Twitter / @Jeopardy

Here’s an answer to a new brain-teaser: The thing is dividing America right now. And here’s the question: What is Alex Trebek’s beard?

The most interesting thing happening on America’s most popular game show, once again, has nothing to do with phrasing something in the form of a question or wagering a bunch of money. Instead, it’s all about some surprising facial hair from the famous host, Alex Trebek. On Saturday, Trebek debuted a brand new beard on Jeopardy! and raised the takes of the show to include an online poll which would determine whether or not the formerly mustachioed man would keep his new beard. And right now, it looks like there is a clear division between those who want Trebek to keep the beard and those who want him to lose it.

From a health perspective, Trebek might want to think about keeping the beard, since there are some scientific studies that suggest having a beard can curb skin cancer for men. On the other hand, for Trebek, the beard seems to have completely altered his appearance in such a way that he no longer even looks remotely like his former self. In fact, it could be argued that the new beard makes him suddenly look a lot like the most famous fictional Jeopardy! contestant of all time, Darrell Hammond’s version of Sean Connery from SNL’s infamous Celebrity Jeopardy! sketches. (Which, also featured Norm MacDonald as the recently departed Burt Reynolds.)

In fact, it could be argued that the subliminal reason we all have strong feelings about the #AlexTrebeard, one way or another, are linked to our shared memory of “Sean Connery” snarling “your mother, Trebek!” By adopting a faux-Sean Connery beard, it’s like Alex Trebek is trying to merge with the specter of Sean Connery to wield even more smug power than he did before.

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As of this writing, nearly 70 percent of people polled on Twitter think Trebek should keep the beard, while roughly 30 percent think he should lose it. But, there are six days left in this poll, so who knows? Famously, Trebek wore a mustache on  Jeopardy! until the year 2001, when he shaved it after having sported it for over 30 years. He briefly brought back the stache in 2014, for the anniversary of the show.

On top of all this beard stuff, Trebek made headlines in July when he suggested he would be retiring soon. Meaning, if the beard stays, it might end up being Trebek’s final look before becoming the smug hermit of our envious imaginations.