Ken Jennings Tribute To Comedian Legend Confuses Jeopardy! Fans

Ken Jennings confused Jeopardy fans by tugging his earlobe to reference Carol Burnett's birthday.

By Robert Scucci | Published

ken jennings jeopardy

For those of you who are confused by Ken Jennings’ odd little ear tug during last Thursday’s episode of Jeopardy!, we’re here to clarify. The ear tug was Jennings’ way of saying hi to legendary comedienne Carol Burnett, and not the result of an inner-ear infection. And the reason our host made this gesture was that the contestants weren’t knowledgeable enough to know that April 26 was her 90th birthday, which was the piece of trivia that prompted Jennings to playfully pull on his ear lobe.

But what does this gesture actually mean, and why did Ken Jennings do it? Carol Burnett’s ear tug is simply her own unique way of saying hi to her grandmother. This secret code was inspired by dance troupe performers who would tug on their ears as a quick, and discreet way to say hello to their children while performing. And considering that Ken Jennings has gone down in history as the supreme Jeopardy! champion with 74 wins, it only makes sense that he’d pay homage to the SNL alum in such a clever way.

Carol Burnett

And for anybody looking for Jeopardy! updates, you’ll be pleased to know that Jeopardy! Masters is set to premiere on May 8, 2023. The series will put six previous champions against each other in a round-robin format, and span across 10 hour-long episodes to determine the champion. Ken Jennings will be hosting all 10 episodes, and Masters will certainly be a sensational battle of the minds by the likes of which we’ve never seen on the upcoming game show.

Jeopardy! Masters has announced the six contestants who have collectively won over $7 million during their tenures on the regular show: James Holzhauer, Amy Schneider, Matt Amodio, Mattea Roach, Andrew He, and Samm Buttrey. And while Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik share co-hosting duties on the regular show, it makes sense that Jennings is hosting Masters. Considering his history, and his own legendary run as a contestant in which he won over $4.5 million, Jennings is the right guy to host such a high-stakes round of Jeopardy!

So for those of you who are wondering if Jeopardy! is still worth watching after Alex Trebek’s passing, we’re here to say that it most certainly is. While there’s no denying that Trebek’s passing left Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory) with some pretty big shoes to fill, it’s safe to say that they’re doing an excellent job in thrusting the trivia show into a new decade. And with Masters premiering in less than a week, we can venture to guess that this may very well be the most challenging version of Jeopardy! we’ve seen in recent years!

And for those of you competing and keeping score in the comfort of your homes, it may be in your best interest to bust out the encyclopedia to brush up on your trivia for Jeopardy! Masters. The regular run of Jeopardy! is challenging enough as it is, so we can only assume that the most difficult subjects have been curated for the upcoming series. We’re also wondering if Ken Jennings has ever slipped other subtle gestures under the radar in the past that we weren’t aware of!