"Jeopardy!" Champ Who Slammed It as "Glorified Reality Show" Gets Invite Back
Fans aren't thrilled that Yogesh Raut will be returning after trashing the game show.
A controversial Jeopardy! contestant will be appearing on the series once again—even though he didn't seem to be too impressed by his first experience. Yogesh Raut competed on Jeopardy! during season 39 in January 2023, winning a total of $98,000 across four games on the show. By winning three games (before losing to competitor Katie Palumbo), he qualifies for the upcoming Tournament of Champions and was invited to take part on Dec. 4. But, the comments Raut made about the game show after his first experience have some fans saying he doesn't deserve to return.
Raut was offered a surprise invitation to the Tournament of Champions by host Ken Jennings during the player's appearance on a local Oregon news show, as reported by KATU 2. According to The U.S. Sun, other three-time winners received similar invitations from Jennings, even though in the past, contestants had to win more than three games to quality for the tournament.
But it isn't the amount of games that Raut won that has his participation making headlines. Instead, it's how the competitor behaved during his episodes and how he criticized Jeopardy! afterwards. As reported by The U.S. Sun, Raut did not win over a lot of Jeopardy! fans by bragging about his past quiz show success, and some viewers thought he was not supportive enough of Palumbo when she beat him.
After his four games, Raut slammed Jeopardy! in multiple Facebook posts. As reported by NBC News, he said that Jeopardy! will "never top the list of [his] quizzing accomplishments—not even [his] quizzing accomplishments of 2022." Raut also wrote, "It is entertaining to watch but it bears the same relationship to real quizzing that Holey Moley does to golf." Additionally, he claimed that the quiz community "has a hideous gossip problem." According to The U.S. Sun, he called Jeopardy! "a glorified reality show."
On a more serious note, he addressed the role that he believes Jeopardy! plays in marginalizing certain contestants. "It's bad for women and POC who want to be treated with the same levels of dignity as their White male counterparts," he posted. "It is fundamentally incompatible with incentivizing the next generation of quizzers to excel, and it is fundamentally incompatible with true social justice." He also said that he has been the target of racist trolling online amid his appearances on the show.
According to The U.S. Sun, Raut defended himself against claims that he was unkind to Palumbo, saying, "You may not see me congratulate the person who beat me on camera. THAT DOESN'T MEAN I DIDN'T CONGRATULATE THEM."
The contestant received backlash for his comments, including—some believe—from Jeopardy! champion James Holzhauer. The record holder for single-game winnings posted on X (formerly Twitter), "Anyone who's ever used social media to criticize Jeopardy or its producers should get a lifetime ban from the show." He later clarified that he wasn't being serious.
Meanwhile, Jeopardy! executive producer Michael Davies said on the official Jeopardy! podcast Inside Jeopardy! in January that Raut would be welcomed back. "I like a character, I like a good quizzer. Players like Yogesh will always be welcome on the Alex Trebek stage," Davies said.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News in January, Raut shared a statement he'd written for future quiz lovers. It reads in part, "We have to look the next generation of quizzers in the eyes and tell them, 'I know you want to learn everything that there is to know. But, for your own sake, please don't. It will only get you labeled a 'know-it-all' … Extinguish your love of learning. Instead, 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.'"
The Tournament of Champions will likely begin in February 2024, according to The U.S. Sun.
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