Warning: This post contains spoilers.
All hail Ken Jennings, winner of the Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time tournament.
Jennings was the first competitor to win three games and end the tournament, which aired as a primetime special and pitted him against James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter. The three secured their spots in the competition by being the highest money winners in the the show’s 35-year history.
The competition for the $1 million prize, a trophy and, most importantly, bragging rights, was fierce. While Holzhauer managed to win the second match, Jennings led otherwise.
But Tuesday’s match, the fourth overall, ended up being close, with Holzhauer and Jennings passing the lead back and forth in the latter half of the show. The fate of the night came down to the all-important “Final Jeopardy!” clue in the second game. The category was “Shakespeare’s tragedies”: “He has 272 speeches, the most of any non-title character in a Shakespeare tragedy.”
Rutter bowed out and took the moment to write a sweet message to Trebek, something he’s done in the past. He wrote, “You’re the best, Alex!” When Trebek told him his answer was incorrect, Rutter protested. “It’s true, and I should get credit for it,” he joked.
Jennings was the only contestant who answered the clue with the correct question: Iago. He wagered nothing, though — a big move! — so his winnings from earlier in the night (a whopping 65,600 points from the first round) added to the 23,000 he picked up later was enough to best Holzhauer, who answered the clue incorrectly, with Horatio. Holzhauer, a professional gambler, had bet everything, all 44,000, that he would answer it correctly.
Throughout the tournament, the trio of contestants were quick on the buzzer and gutsy bettors determined to win. Holzhauer started a trend when he mimicked pushing a stack of chips in to mean that he was betting it all on a “Daily Double.”
The way Holzhauer teased Jennings about his form when he attempted the move is an indicator of how much the men enjoyed playing against each other in the historic match.
Trebek was the subject of teasing, too. He didn’t mind at all, though, as he seemed to relish every moment of the intense competition. That would make sense since this week, Trebek confirmed what viewers already suspected: He loves “spending time with bright people” and hates “spending time with stupid people.”
As Trebek opened the show Tuesday, he noted that he was bringing out the trophy for the winner. “This is probably the last time we will see the three of you competing on this program,” he told the fan favorites.
The tournament proved to be a ratings win. More people tuned in for each of the first three installments than did for some games of the NBA finals and the World Series in 2019.
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