Ken Jennings Accidentally Reveals "Jeopardy!" Secret On-Air
The host was celebrating three-day champion Ben Chan.
Gameplay on Jeopardy! is fairly straightforward. Loyal fans know that when they tune in, the show will follow the same format, moving from the first round to Double Jeopardy, and then Final Jeopardy, five nights a week. That doesn't make the game any less exciting, though, and we tune in to enjoy the fast pace and to see which contestants maintain their streak or get dethroned. But while Jeopardy! isn't exactly shrouded in mystery, there are some tricks of the trade that fans aren't privy to. And during a recent episode, viewers were clued into a show secret when host Ken Jennings accidentally revealed a crucial aspect of the game. Read on to find out more about the on-air slip-up.
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Jennings gave viewers a sneak peek at his Final Jeopardy! card.
One thing Jeopardy! fans love is learning more about the ins and outs of the game—and Jennings just let them in on another little secret.
During the Friday, April 14 episode, Ben Chan, Kari Elsila, and Greg Czaja were facing off, responding to a clue about "Writers' Lesser-Known Works." Both Czaja and Chan had the correct response (Niccolò Machiavelli), but Chan wagered enough to maintain his three-day streak
While celebrating Chan's victory, Jennings did a "raise the roof" gesture, which Chan did following his first win that Wednesday. But in doing so, Jennings accidentally revealed the back of the Final Jeopardy! card.
Fans speculated about what the card really said.
The font size was too small to truly determine what the card said, but fans had some ideas. On Twitter, @OneEclecticMom suggested that the card included information about how the game may end.
"We got a rare look at Ken's Final Jeopardy card tonight," the tweet reads. "This is the card where a staff member (I believe co-head writer Michele Loud) writes all the contestant wagers and possible outcomes for the host to have on hand alongside the clue and correct response."
@OneEclecticMom went on to explain that she believes they card is filled out immediately after contestants' wagers "are locked in," and it is then given to the host before they read the Final Jeopardy! clue.
This theory isn't confirmed—and Jennings' "raise the roof" gesture is shown in a clip posted on the official Jeopardy! YouTube page, insinuating that production isn't too concerned with the "mistake." Speaking to this, former Jeopardy! champion Austin Tyler Rogers quoted @OneEclecticMom's tweet with a seemingly sarcastic remark.
"Now we know how the sausage is made," Rogers wrote.
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This isn't the first Jeopardy! host mishap.
Jennings' co-host, Mayim Bialik, was accused of airing game secrets last year, although it was on social media as opposed to on the air.
In May 2022, Bialik posted a photo on Instagram, where fans claimed Jeopardy! clues were clearly visible through the papers she was holding, The U.S. Sun reported.
Fans took to Reddit to discuss their theories, speculating that the paper revealed Final Jeopardy! clues.
"She is holding a broadsheet of clues. If you look closely enough, some of it is legible," a Redditor wrote, titling the post "Inadvertent game material leak?"
Production isn't innocent either.
More recently, Jeopardy! was under fire for revealing contestants' scores before they answered any questions. The slip-up occurred during the High School Reunion Tournament in March.
After Bialik—who was at the helm for the tournament—congratulated the players at the start of the episode, the camera panned to the three contestants, where their final scores were visible. Viewers were rightfully frustrated about the editing error, which production later apologized for.
"We totally blew it at the top of the show," executive producer Michael Davies said during a March 13 episode of the Inside Jeopardy! podcast. "We made a horrible error, where we revealed the final scores at the end in the opening cutaway shot during Mayim's monologue."
Davies also pledged that production was taking steps to avoid these mistakes in the future, stressing that the team at Jeopardy! takes errors "really, really seriously."