Alex Trebek is one of those non-controversial celebrities who pretty much everyone loves. Have you ever mentioned Alex Trebek in conversation and had someone reply, "Ugh, isn't he the worst?" Certainly not!
Well, this little-known fact about the Jeopardy! host is about to make you love him even more. About 20 years ago, Trebek spent about $2 million on a large plot of open land in California — and immediately donated it for conservation.
Reddit has been abuzz with this fun fact since Tuesday, when a redditor posted about it in the todayilearned subreddit, and it made it to the home page with more than 56,000 upvotes. "TIL Alex Trebek purchased 62 acres in the Hollywood Hills and donated it to a Santa Monica Conservancy," the post read. According to the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority, the 62-acre space is called Trebek Open Space, and it sits in the Hollywood Hills right next to Runyon Canyon Park.
"The parkland was generously donated by the well known Jeopardy! host, Alex Trebek," according to the government website. Trebek Open Space is filled with plenty of fire roads, which double as trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians.
According to the blog Hikespeak.com, hiking Trebek Open Space is free and no permits are needed. The blog also noted that the trails are dog-friendly, and they're a popular choice for for dog walkers — that said, Trebek Open Space is generally significantly less crowded than the adjacent Runyon Canyon Park, but it has similar (and amazing) views. Sounds pretty sweet!
The Los Angeles Times first reported the news of Trebek's donation on Jan. 14, 1998. As the newspaper wrote at the time, Trebek spent $2 million on 74 acres of open land, which he bought to donate to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. (It's unclear what happened to the other 12 acres, and why the land only measures 62 acres now.)
John Diaz, who was the acquisitions director for the conservancy at the time, told The Los Angeles Times that the donation almost doubled the the parkland in the area. He also noted that the donation meant the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy would be working to improve the trails throughout the area for hikers and cyclists, but more importantly, for wildlife. Diaz and the team at the conservancy had their eyes on the land for a while, because they wanted the land to be protected as a "wildlife corridor" for animals including coyotes and deer.
By purchasing the open land for the conservancy, Trebek was able to prevent the land from being developed. Real estate in the Hollywood Hills is a lucrative market, with houses currently on the market costing up to $28 million, as seen on Zillow. The land definitely serves a better purpose for the community — and for wildlife — by remaining an open space, and it's pretty amazing that Trebek stepped in with his Jeopardy! earnings to do a solid for the city he calls home.