'Jeopardy!' Crowns Its Greatest Champion Of All Time

Jan 16, 2020
Originally published on January 16, 2020 11:34 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Oh, man. This week "Jeopardy!" crowned its greatest contestant of all time.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "JEOPARDY!")

ALEX TREBEK: Ken Jennings...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Congrats, Ken. That's the best...

TREBEK: ...You are the champion.

(APPLAUSE)

MARTIN: Over four nights, the game show's top money-winners faced off. Ken Jennings was first to win three games against James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, you might remember Jennings from his 74-game winning streak back in 2004. That's a record that still stands today. Yet, when the show asked him to compete in this latest tournament, Jennings didn't think he had a chance.

KEN JENNINGS: I felt like I was a little old, no longer as young and sharp as the new guy - James Holzhauer.

MARTIN: Still, he thought it'd be fun to compete.

JENNINGS: Just get to see Alex one more time, say goodbye to everybody. And luckily, it turned out very well for me. I got some breaks and had a very good week.

GREENE: Yeah, pretty good. He left with a million dollars, in part by imitating one of his rivals. James Holzhauer, a professional gambler, is known for taking these big risks.

JENNINGS: The other two players, Brad and I, both realized really the only way to to beat James would be to do a very good James impression. You know, you got to play his game.

MARTIN: So Jennings did. But for Final Jeopardy...

JENNINGS: I wagered zero.

GREENE: The category was Shakespeare's tragedies.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "JEOPARDY!")

TREBEK: He has 272 speeches, the most of any non-titled character in a Shakespeare tragedy. You have 30 seconds. Good luck.

MARTIN: Holzhauer missed, and Jennings got it. The answer is Iago, by the way. Now some people wonder if Jennings could return one day to the "Jeopardy!" stage as host.

JENNINGS: Answering that question would involve considering a world in which Alex Trebek is not the host of "Jeopardy!".

GREENE: And that, Ken Jennings cannot do.

(SOUNDBITE OF MERV GRIFFIN'S "THINK!") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.