Ken Jennings Under Fire From Fans For Jeopardy! Champion Surprise Loss

By Charlene Badasie | Published

ken jennings jeopardy

Fans believe Ken Jennings is to blame for three-day Jeopardy! champion, Will Stewart, failing to reach the next round. Stewart entered the May 15 episode with $70,501 and confidence in his ability to extend his winning streak. However, what seemed like another victory in the making took an unexpected turn as Stewart found himself outmaneuvered by grocery clerk Grant DeYoung.

DeYoung Vs. Stewart

Stewart took the lead early in the game, winning $7,600 in the opening round by correctly answering 12 clues, including the first Daily Double. DeYoung trailed behind with $3,400, while fellow contestant Kathy Olson held $1,800.

During Double Jeopardy! DeYoung won both Daily Doubles, opting to split his wagers rather than go all in.

This tactical move intensified the competition between Stewart and DeYoung as they raced to tackle the final clues.

The Ken Jennings controversy began when DeYoung chose the penultimate clue in the Jeopardy! category called “In The Period Film.” The clue was the role Nicole Kidman played in Being The Ricardos.

The Clarification

DeYoung responded with “What’s Lucy?” Ken Jennings paused and asked for further clarification to the Jeopardy! clue. DeYoung then completed his answer with “Arnaz,” which was accepted and was awarded $400.

Jennings then confirmed that “Lucille Ball” was the correct answer. Kidman played Ball in Being The Ricardos, which featured scenes of her as Lucy, Ball’s character in I Love Lucy.

However, Ken Jennings’ hesitation led to the timer running out, leaving the last clue unanswered.

Despite DeYoung’s lead, some viewers speculated that the additional time taken for Jennings’ clarification robbed Stewart of an opportunity to potentially tie the scores heading into Final Jeopardy! where DeYoung held a lead of $13,200 over Stewart’s $12,800, with Olson trailing behind at $6,600.

Fans Are Mad At Jennings


Despite all contestants correctly answering the final clue in the “19th Century Literary Characters” category with “Scrooge,” it was DeYoung who won by wagering nearly his entire cash total, culminating in a winning total of $25,601. Stewart claimed second place with $13,201, narrowly edging out Olson.

Fans took to the internet to express their unhappiness with Ken Jennings’ handling of the Jeopardy! clue.

 Some argued that Ken Jennings’ request for specificity was unnecessary and impacted the outcome of the Jeopardy! episode. Others questioned the validity of DeYoung’s “Arnaz” response, which they deemed inaccurate since Nicole Kidman played Lucille Ball, not Lucie Arnaz.

Was DeYoung Wrong?

“Complicating it more is that Lucie Arnaz is an actual, known, and some might say famous person who happens to be Lucy and Desi’s daughter. Nicole Kidman did not play Lucie Arnaz, so on that, the answer was wrong,” one viewer said about the Ken Jennings/Jeopardy! discourse. While unpleasant, the controversy surrounding the episode simply reflects the passionate nature of the game show’s fans.

Ken Jennings

ken jennings jeopardy

Ken Jennings was named the full-time host of Jeopardy! following Mayim Bialik’s exit from her co-hosting position in December 2023.

Jennings, known for his record-breaking success as a contestant on the show, expressed surprise at being appointed as the sole host at the time but also conveyed his excitement and gratitude for the opportunity.

He mentioned missing working with Bialik and said he looks forward to continuing in his new role, aiming to match the impressive tenure of the late Alex Trebek, who hosted the show for almost 38 years. 

Ken Jennings also talked about the importance of maintaining the show’s stability and legacy, acknowledging the significant role of Jeopardy! as a source of comfort and familiarity in a changing world.

Source: TV Insider