Ken Jennings has suffered a speed bump on Jeopardy!’s opening on Friday, picking the wrong player to select the first clue.
The Jeopardy! host then stopped the game to fix his mistake, as fans were shocked it happened or aired as-is.
The unfortunate gaffe occurred during the culmination of the second week of Season 40’s Second Chance Tournament.
The game show has invited back 27 previously unvictorious contestants for the first three weeks of its 40th season.
The big winner each week advances to the first-ever eight-week Champions Wild Card Tournament later in the fall.
The episode opened with Pam at $10,000, Rob at $3400, Deanna at $16,200, reflecting Thursday’s match since they were in a two-part final- then reset to $0.
Ken, 49, explained while opening: “The scores you see on their podiums right now are the amounts they earned yesterday.
“We’ll be zeroing those out now, but we will add them back to the totals you accumulate today to determine our winner.”
Because Deanna entered with the highest score, she was supposed to select the first clue.
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However, Ken said: “Pam, start us off,” selecting the player at the leftmost podium even though she wasn’t meant to go first.
The first clue was read, and Rob got it correctly.
‘LET’S MAKE THIS RIGHT’
At that point, Ken stopped the broadcast before Rob selected the next clue.
The camera cut to Ken, saying: “And I realize now that Deanna, as our Game 1 leader, you should have actually selected first.”
“So let’s make this right, Deanna, make a selection now.”
Deanna then selected next as was originally intended, and Rob was not docked the $1000 he got by getting the first clue but had to give up control of the board.
FANS REACT TO KEN’S RE-DO
Fans were at a loss over the giant misstep from Ken and discussed it on social media.
One fan posted to X (formerly Twitter): “Why did nobody in Judgement or Production ‘realize’ the kennings snafu, WHILE he made it?”
“Never seen that kind of mistake, Ken starts with the wrong player!” wrote another.
On Reddit a fan wrote: “Is this the first time the host has ever called on the wrong person to pick first to open a show?
“I’m surprised they allowed that to stay and just had Ken switch to the correct contestant, rather than throwing out the whole clue and restarting the game.”
Another wrote: “Between that and his accepting an entirely wrong response on Monday (Chief Joseph vs. Crazy Horse), I think it’s safe to say that we’re seeing the negative impact of the writers not being on set. Things just feel unsettled.”
A third agreed: “Was wondering why they didn’t just restart. I guess every clue is so valuable now that they don’t have new ones currently incoming,” referring to the writer’s strike.
“At least they let Rob keep his points,” wrote a fourth.
“That was weird that they didn’t just reshoot the opening question,” wrote a fifth.
A sixth argued that wouldn’t have been fair and the show had no choice: “Would’ve cost Rob his $1,000 get.”
Deanna had a strong Double Jeopardy round and ended up with $12,400, Rob had $11,400, and Pam had $9,200.
Final Jeopardy read: “A fireworks display followed the April 27, 1749 premiere of a work by this man that had been commissioned by George II.”
Despite being the only player not to get “Handel,” Deanna won out with the highest two-day total of $28,600, just a few hundred dollars over rival Pam.
She looked thrilled to win $35K and will advance to the next tournament along with last week’s winner Hari Parameswaran.
HOST OFF HIS GAME?
And on Wednesday, fans were furious after Ken asked a contestant: “more specifically?” on a clue looking for Patricia Nixon.
Ken read: “She met the future president in 1938 when they both tried out for a local play in Whittier, California,” and a player buzzed in and guessed: “Who is Nixon?”
Ken, however, pushed back wanting her first name- fans felt Ken was in the wrong since Nixon only ever had one First Lady.
The player responded: “Richard Nixon- Oh, uh sorry” seeming thrown off by Ken’s ask, costing him $1200 in a $2400 swing.
One person wrote on Reddit at the time: “That is bizarre. What other First Lady with the last name of Nixon did they have in mind that would be a plausible response?”
Another wrote: “I came here to make this exact same comment. It seemed really unfair and illogical to me.
ALL ABOUT THE SECOND CHANCE TOURNAMENT
Each tournament week starts with three qualifying matches of Season 37 contestants instead of new players.
The week’s three winners face off in a Thursday/Friday final like this one.
That winner advances to the next tournament; Champions Wildcard.
Now there’s just one week left to see who will advance with Hari and Deanna.
Champions Wildcard will pit the winners from this series against brief Season 37 and 38 champions- the lineup is yet to be announced.
The subsequent eight-week tournament’s price is a ticket to the currently postponed Tournament of Champions.
This takes fans into December, but given the writer’s strikes, the schedule after that is unannounced.
EVERYTHING TO KNOW ABOUT SEASON 40
Jeopardy!’s monumental Season 40 premiered on September 11 and will run until July 26, 2024.
She bowed out in solidarity with the strikers, a big shakeup since she and Ken were tapped to split hosting after Alex Trebek‘s death in 2020.
That’s far from the only big change on the board.
Aside from not having new contestants or Mayim, the other major change is the clues.
The game show is re-using questions from past seasons while without its writers.
Showrunner Michael Davies explained on the “Inside Jeopardy!” podcast that it “wouldn’t be fair to have new contestants making their first appearance” on the show with material that isn’t original or that was written pre-strike.
“The material that we’re gonna be using is a combination of material that our WGA writers wrote before the strike, which is still in the database and material that is being redeployed from multiple, multiple seasons of the show.”
Davies also announced a $1000 bump in consolation prizes and said that he admires and misses the show’s beloved writers.
“If you don’t have time to listen, here’s the executive summary of today’s announcement,” James, 39, wrote, sharing a link to the podcast episode.
“1:00-2:00: Jeopardy’s writers are invaluable and we couldn’t produce the show without them,” he continued.
“2:00-15:00: Here is how we will produce the upcoming season without them.”
Meanwhile, the 2023 Tournament of Champions will not happen not until the strikes are over.
Several Season 39 champs, including Ray LaLonde, Cris Pannullo, Hannah Wilson, and Ben Chan, said they would not participate in the TOC until the strikes are concluded.
Ken has faced backlash from some fans and former players for his decision to cross the picket line.
Ken has kept relatively quiet on the subject besides resharing a statement from the show’s executive producer referencing how the late Alex continued hosting during the 2007 to 2008 writers’ strike.