"Jeopardy!" Fans Are Furious at Host Ken Jennings Over This Mid-Game Ruling
Some are even accusing him of showing gender bias.
Fans are still getting used to watching Ken Jennings host Jeopardy! every day, and after a ruling he made during the Sept. 14 episode, some think he's not quite up to the job. Durning the game that aired on Wednesday, Jennings made what some viewers believe was an unfair call for one contestant though he had allowed another constant—that episode's returning champion—to do something similar earlier in the game. Viewers voiced their opinions on social media, and the contestants involved in the controversy spoke out, too. Read on to find out what happened and why some people are accusing Jennings of being biased on social media.
Jennings just started hosting the show officially.
Jennings—who holds the record for winning the most consecutive games in Jeopardy! history—became host of its daily syndicated show in September 2021. At this point, his role wasn't considered permanent. In July 2022, it was announced that Jennings would be an official host of the show, which began its 39th season in September. Jennings shares the job with actor and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik, who is the emcee for Jeopardy! primetime specials, including the National College Championship.
Jennings let the returning champion correct his response.
Jennings only just started his run as a regular, permanent host, and he's already facing some backlash. As reported by People, during Wednesday's episode, returning champion Luigi de Guzman was given the clue "Here's a typical 19th-century landscape by this British painter" and shown a photo of a painting. De Guzman responded, "Who is Constant?" to which Jennings said, "Say that again." De Guzman then said, "Sorry. Constable. Who is Constable?" referring to artist John Constable, and the response was ruled correct.
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Another contestant wasn't allowed to change her answer.
Later in the game, contestant Harriet Wagner was given a clue about a fantasy writer born in Berkeley, California. She responded, "Who is Angela Le Guin—sorry, Ursula Le Guin." The response was ruled incorrect. De Guzman then buzzed in with the correct reply and was awarded the $2,000 for that clue.
Jennings explained, "Yes, Harriet, you remembered that her name was Ursula, but I had already begun ruling against you when you began correcting yourself."
In the end, de Guzman ended up winning in what was a close game. Wagner ended up in third place, but was only $700 behind de Guzman and $100 behind second place contestant Winston Li.
Fans were upset by the call.
Viewers who did not agree with Jennings' rulings spoke out on Twitter.
One Twitter user wrote, "she was correcting Angela to Ursula and got debited. I like Ken, but he needs to work on some things. Not fair tonight." Another said, "Anyone else watch @Jeopardy tonight and think Ken was egregiously inconsistent with his rulings on answers by Luigi and Harriet?" Someone else posted, "@Jeopardy Luigi gives wrong answer, Ken asks him what, then gives correct answer. Harriet says wrong first name, then while she begins to correct herself Ken interrupts and rules her incorrect. SO INCONSISTENT and unfair."
A few viewers questioned whether the decision had to do with the contestants' genders. One fan tweeted, "#jeopardy why did Ken Jennings let one contestant (male) change a wrong answer, but ruled against another (female), even though she said the correct answer within the time limit? Tonight's episode was an unfair runaway because of that ruling on the last answer in double jeopardy." Someone else added, "I agree! That was totally unfair and Ken Jennings (and the 'judges') were absolutely wrong not to give her credit for a correct answer. Is the #misogyny from #Jeopardy? Sure looks like it!" Another fan wrote, "Ken gives the guy a second chance but not the woman!!! #Jeopardy #kenjennings."
Jeopardy! has official rules for situations like these.
According to the official rules of Jeopardy!, "Contestants may change their responses as long as neither the host nor the judges have made a ruling." The show's website explains, "If you're giving a response and suddenly hear your mouth saying something your brain wasn't planning on – or forget to phrase your response in the form of a question—you can correct yourself; but you'll have to be quick." As Jennings said on the show, he had already begun ruling against Wagner when she changed her response to "Ursula Le Guin."
Wagner and de Guzman both commented on the drama.
After the episode aired and viewers began slamming Jennings on social media, both Wagner and de Guzman responded. As reported by TheJeopardyFan.com, Wagner tweeted, "Leave Ken alone!!!! He's my main man (except for my hubby) and has to work in real time the same as the contestants. He's doing a great job."
As reported by TV Shows Ace, de Guzman also posted about the backlash. In a series of tweets, he explained what was going through his head when he said "Constant" and then "Constable" and gave his take on the situation.
"If I'd have been Ken, I'd have either cut both of us off, or hesitated both times. But that wasn't the side of the stage I was on on the day, and it took a great deal of separation in time and space for me to watch it and see it," de Guzman posted. In another tweet, he wrote, "I especially want to shout out @Harriett4332263's grace here. I've pinged her about this, and she has shown me the grace befitting a great litigator. That means a lot to me, and I really appreciate it."