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Ken Jennings Blamed for Costing "Jeopardy!" Champ the Game: "Unnecessary"

Fans are accusing the host of giving a contestant points for an incorrect answer.

To win Jeopardy!, you obviously need to know your stuff. Trivia categories are meant to stump both the left and right sides of your brain, and the word puzzles are designed to jumble your sentences. But becoming a Jeopardy! champion also has a lot to do with speed and timing. A slight hesitation may open the door for your opponent to buzz in first—or in contestant Will Stewart's case, cost you the game due to a clarification delay.

A political organizer from Nashville, Stewart was within arm's reach of securing his fourth consecutive Jeopardy! win when host Ken Jennings seemingly delayed the game to give fellow contestant Grant DeYoung a chance to polish his half-correct answer.

RELATED: "Jeopardy!" Producer Defends "Nightmare" Final Clue Fans Call the "Worst Ever."

Stewart went into the May 15 episode as a fan favorite after winning three Jeopardy! games in a row, bringing his total earnings to $70,501. However, DeYoung gave Stewart a run for his money during the Double Jeopardy! round in which he clinched both Daily Doubles, as The Sun reports.

As the round wound down, only the six $400 tiles remained. In a heated crossfire, Stewart correctly guessed two of the tiles, as did DeYoung, pocketing $800 each. DeYoung was the first player to buzz in for the fifth $400 clue, meaning he got to guess first. However, his semi-correct response prompted a clarification from Jennings, which then led to the host forfeiting the final $400 tile altogether.

The clue in question was listed under the "In The Period Film" category and read, "It's the role Nicole Kidman played in Being The Ricardos."

DeYoung, who buzzed first, guessed, "What's Lucy?"

The answer Jennings was looking for was "Who is Lucille Ball," so he egged DeYoung on by asking, "Can you—" to which DeYoung quickly responded, "Arnaz!" in reference to the last name of Ball's husband, Desi Arnaz.

While DeYoung's second attempt still wasn't technically correct, Jennings gave him the points. Stewart was unable to counter, and due to time running out, he also couldn't vie for the final $400 clue.

"Mmm, yes we'll take that," Jennings told DeYoung, per The Sun. "You're in the lead, and we do not have time for the final clue, so you will have a $400 lead going into the Final."

Because of the amendment, DeYoung was able to creep ahead. He went into Final Jeopardy! with $13,200, followed closely by Stewart with $12,800. Both players answered the "19th Century Literary Characters" clue correctly, but DeYoung's leading total snagged him the title of Jeopardy! champion.


Shortly after DeYoung was crowned the winner, fans took to Reddit, accusing Jennings of costing Stewart the game.

"Absurd the tying clue was left on the board," wrote one person in reference to the unread sixth $400 tile.

"Another unnecessary BMS [be more specific] by Ken. The character Nicole Kidman played was Lucy Ricardo, so 'Lucy' should've been immediately accepted. That would've given Will a chance to tie Grant on the 60th clue, and we'd have gotten a one-question tiebreaker," a user argued.

"I wonder if there's any chance that last $400 clue in DJ gets revealed if 'Lucy' gets immediately accepted; obviously, we're dealing in hypotheticals about whether or not Will could have tied it at that point, but it's one of those things where that timer just nags at the game a little bit," explained another.

Stewart added: "I haven't been able to watch yet so I'm unsure if it's in the broadcast, but the moment the timer sounded I briefly dejectedly slumped across the top of my podium."

Meanwhile, several fans noted that Ball never legally took her married last name, "Arnaz." Therefore, they believe DeYoung's clarification should still be deemed incorrect.

"I think I'm of the opinion that not only should it not have been accepted immediately, but Grant should have been ruled incorrect for responding Lucy Arnaz," said another.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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