As the coronavirus spreads in China, so does fury at the government
Ken Jennings became Jeopardy’s “Greatest of All Time” champion on Tuesday evening. He won three of the four contests in a series that began last Tuesday. About 15 million viewers—the largest television audience drawn by a non-sports program in the past four years—watched each of the four nights of competition.
Jennings, who holds the record for the longest Jeopardy! winning streak—74 games in 2004—defeated Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer, who held records for most dollars won.
The win was far from inevitable.
“The clues get more complex in these tournaments,” Jennings recently told the Television Critics Association. “That’s got to be fun for the writers.”
That fun was obvious in categories like “JEOPORTMANTEAU!,” which pushed contestants to come up with a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others. The correct question for “Sentient creature like Olaf or Frosty” plus “the No. 1 Kosher wine brand in America” was, “What is Snowmanischewitz?”
Jennings showed his prodigious knowledge on challenges like, “He has 272 speeches, the most of any non-title character in a Shakespeare tragedy.” Jennings correctly answered, ”Who is Iago?”
Holzhauer, a professional gambler, brought an all-or-nothing strategy to “Daily Double” questions, and TV producer Rutter was often quickest to the buzzer. But Jennings holds the record for the highest average correct responses per game in Jeopardy! history: 33, including tournaments and special events. He was consistent throughout the tournament, and won big on Daily Doubles during the last contest.
The biggest star of the night was long-term host Alex Trebek, who has been fighting cancer. Jennings, who won $1 million, said he particularly wanted to be in the tournament to be reunited with Trebek: “Just the idea that you’ve got a chance to be associated with your favorite show one more time, kind of a capstone of Alex’s career, you don’t want to screw with that.”
Rutter did not get the right answer to the Final Jeopardy question Tuesday night, but the answer he wrote out wasn’t wrong: “You’re the best, Alex.”
—Dustin Messer and Michael Malament are graduates of the World Journalism Institute mid-career course.