Ken Jennings Slammed by Former Champ Wil Wheaton: "We Will All Remember This"
The actor called Jennings out in a recent Facebook post.
Jeopardy! co-host Ken Jennings has a vocal and loyal group of fans, who adore his quick wit, rapport with contestants, and general know-how about the game. Some insist he should maintain the gig as the sole host, instead of splitting the duties with actor Mayim Bialik—and there's even an entire Twitter account called "Is Ken Jennings Hosting Jeopardy! This Week" that keeps tabs on his schedule. But while Jennings is a Jeopardy! darling, he's now facing significant backlash, with actor and former champion Wil Wheaton calling him out directly. Read on to find out what's behind the uproar, and why Wheaton is refusing to back down.
Bialik decided to step down from hosting Jeopardy! for the remainder of Season 39.
Last week, news broke that Bialik had opted out of hosting the final week of the syndicated Jeopardy! season. Deadline first reported that Bialik was stepping away to stand in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, which began in early May.
Per the Associated Press, writers are calling for a number of changes, including higher wages, protection from the use of artificial intelligence (AI), and more upfront fees to compensate for losses tied to streaming services.
As a result of Bialik's decision, Jennings is filling in for the final week of the season. According to Deadline, the last episodes are set to be filmed at the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, California, starting today.
Wheaton addressed Jennings on Facebook.
Deadline reported that the clues for the remainder of the current Jeopardy! season have already been written, but Jennings' decision still didn't sit right with many fans. Loyal viewers even dubbed him a "scab" (a person who crosses a picket line and works during a strike).
On Sunday, Wheaton—who is a former Celebrity Jeopardy! champ—chimed in on the conversation and called the quizzing legend out directly.
"This is a VERY small town, Ken Jennings, and we will all remember this," Wheaton wrote on Facebook. "Your privilege may protect you right now, but we will *never* forget." Wheaton also included the hashtag #WGAStrong and attached a link to a Daily Beast article about Jennings' decision to "cross the picket line."
Best Life reached out to Jennings' representatives for comment on Wheaton's statements, and will update the story upon hearing back.
Wheaton claimed that Jennings "made his choice" not to support workers.
Wheaton's post garnered close to 6,000 Facebook responses and 1,600 comments, with Wheaton repeatedly voicing his support for the strike—and his disdain for Jennings.
"It's like this: did you cross a picket line? If yes, you are a scab who turned your back on organized labor," Wheaton wrote in the comments section. "If no, you're a decent person who stands with your fellow workers."
Responding to someone who argued it may not be fair to single Jennings out, Wheaton said, "He has the choice to support his fellow workers, or to support management who are exploiting them. He's made his choice."
Some said they may stop watching Jeopardy! entirely.
In light of the hot-button issue, many fans are also standing with the writers, claiming they won't tune in to Jeopardy! anymore.
"Sorry Jeopardy, you're off my viewing list," a fan wrote on Wheaton's post, arguing that Jennings is "smart enough to understand what he's doing."
Others commended Bialik for her choice to step away, and said that Jennings should have "let re-runs play as the other shows have."
"This is my opportunity to catch up on all the things I never have time to watch," yet another viewer wrote on Wheaton's post. "My 'need' for constant entertainment doesn't supercede the actual needs of employees not being compensated properly and their future needs protected."