"Jeopardy!" Champ James Holzhauer Says Recent Winner "Should Get a Lifetime Ban"
Holzhauer chimed in on the controversy surrounding three-day champ Yogesh Raut.
One of the most addictive aspects of watching Jeopardy! is seeing how far a reigning champion can go. Some of the most famous Jeopardy! legends include current host Ken Jennings, who holds the record of 74 wins; Brad Rutter, who has the greatest all-time winnings; and James Holzhauer, who holds the record for single-game winnings. These stats are certainly impressive, but recent winner Yogesh Raut—who won three games earlier this month–believes these accolades aren't all they're cracked up to be. Now, Holzhauer is calling for Raut to get a "lifetime ban" from the show. Read on to find out more about this ongoing Jeopardy! controversy.
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Raut has certainly caused a stir.
Raut had a brief winning streak on Jeopardy! episodes from Jan. 11 to Jan. 16, but after his initial triumph, he took to Facebook to air his grievances about the game.
"Please don't misunderstand what I'm about to say," Raut wrote on Jan. 12. "I established myself as belonging in the top tier of writers/editors/bloggers/podcasters in the quizzing community. Yet today I'm receiving the most attention, praise, congratulations, and nasty trolling from strangers (!) of my life … and for what? What did I do to get the biggest paycheck of my quizzing career? I beat two guys."
Raut said that he wasn't trying to attack his fellow contestants, but that Jeopardy! isn't really about "skill level" and is actually "a glorified reality show." He went on to say that the series is made for entertainment, and therefore shouldn't be treated like "the Olympics of quizzing."
He took things a step further, claiming that the issue is the quiz show's "centrality to American society," and claiming it prohibits "healthy quizzing culture" from thriving.
"'Jeopardy!' is a fun TV show but putting it on a pedestal is an objectively bad thing," Raut wrote. "It's bad for the future of quizzing. It's bad for women and POC [people of color] who want to be treated with the same levels of dignity as their White male counterparts."
Holzhauer responded to Raut's critiques.
Fans were already fairly upset with Raut's conduct while on the show, including his "buzzer technique," his failure to applaud for Katie Palumbo after she broke his streak, and behavior that some called arrogant. (At one point, Jennings dubbed him a "show off," The U.S. Sun reported.)
Raut's Facebook posting continued for several days. Commenters had more critical commentary for the three-day winner, with fans calling him a braggart and a sore loser, and asking why he went on the show in the first place.
On Jan. 24, Jeopardy! legend Holzhauer chimed in on the discussion as well. Attaching a link to an NBC News article entitled "'Jeopardy!' champ Yogesh Raut takes aim at the relevance of the very game he won 3 times," Holzhauer wrote, "Anyone who's ever used social media to criticize Jeopardy or its producers should get a lifetime ban from the show."
On the surface, the tweet reads like it's siding with the fans who are up in arms—but Twitter was divided over Holzhauer's true intent.
Holzhauer has also criticized the game and its producers.
Holzhauer actually spoke out about previous Jeopardy! producer and host Mike Richards in 2021, TV Insider reported. Richards' departure came after controversial comments he made in 2013 and 2014 resurfaced, People reported. While Richards apologized for the sexist and derogatory statements made on The Randumb Show podcast, his fate was sealed thanks to additional claims of workplace discrimination and a lawsuit accusing him of wrongful termination and retaliation while working on The Price Is Right.
In response to the news, Holzhauer tweeted on Aug. 31, 2021, "Do I think Mike Richards's podcast comments were appropriate for polite society? No. But did he deserve the benefit of the doubt for the job he did running Jeopardy? Also no." His next tweet included a GIF from The Wizard of Oz of the song "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead."
Holzhauer's latest tweet about Raut, however, was a bit more cryptic—and Twitter responses reflected this. One user called Raut a "toxic creep," while another said that there were "plenty of reasons" for Raut to get a lifetime ban, as it was "physically unpleasant to watch him."
But TV Insider noted that some commenters believe Holzhauer's tweet was tongue-in-cheek, with one respondent writing, "I think a lot of people are missing James's joke here," and another saying, "I didn't get the context until reading some of the comments. No idea that Holzhauer had his own social media diatribe v Jeopardy."
Raut said producers told him to act the way he did.
Holzhauer has not tweeted again since his comment about Raut, so the jury is still out on how sincere he was being. Meanwhile, Raut gave an interview to BuzzFeed News about his experience, doubling down on what he said on Facebook.
"I have a master's degree in film and television studies. I know how a television show works. It's a business," Raut told the outlet. "Jeopardy is not good for quizzing." He added that he's faced even more negativity and had to unfollow Jeopardy! on Facebook.
Raut previously called commenters "racist" for dubbing him arrogant, telling BuzzFeed News that he was told backstage to "move the show along," which is why he acted they way he did. As for Holzhauer's tweet, Raut said he isn't concerned about a lifetime ban. He pointed BuzzFeed News to a seemingly sarcastic letter he wrote to future quizzers, encouraging them to "extinguish your love of learning" or you'll be labeled a "know-it-all."
"Learn just enough to not seem threatening, and devote the rest of your energy to cultivating a hobby that someday a casting director will deem 'wacky, but not too wacky,'" Raut wrote.