‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Ryan Long Offers Apology Over Response on Show: ‘I Wasn’t Thinking’

by Caitlin Berard

The iconic game show Jeopardy! is both fast-paced and high-stakes, which makes it a wonderfully exciting experience for fans but a sometimes dreadfully stressful one for contestants. In the most recent edition of Jeopardy, fan-favorite champion Ryan Long slipped up not once but twice. Though the offenses were minor, Ryan was quick to apologize on social media.

It started with the sports category, which is typically Ryan’s strong suit. “Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis” was the question on the board, to which Ryan Long replied, “Female tennis,” rather than simply “tennis,” the correct response. As soon as the episode ended, Ryan took to Twitter to explain himself. “Ok, so a few things,” he wrote. “‘Female tennis’ I wasn’t thinking, my brain was in hyperspecific mode. No offense meant.”

His tweet included an apology to Phil Donahue as well, who Ryan Long incorrectly guessed was dead. The Final Jeopardy! category was “In Memoriam 2022”. Host Mayim Bialik read out the clue: “On the death of this trailblazing man, friend & mentor, Oprah said, “For me, the greatest of the ‘great trees’ has fallen.”

The correct answer was Sidney Poitier, the Oscar-winning actor who died on January 6 of this year at the age of 94. Ryan Long guessed Phil Donahue, the TV personality who is 86 years old and very much alive. “I definitely owe Mr. Donahue an apology,” Ryan Long wrote. “When you see me chuckle is when I remember that Mr. Donahue is alive and well.”

Ryan Long Scores 12th ‘Jeopardy!’ Win Amid Unusual Events

Though Monday night’s Jeopardy episode was a slightly messy one for Ryan Long, he made it through the blunders and scored his 12th victory, increasing his total winnings to an incredible $226K. Ryan Long has already qualified for the Tournament of Champions later this year and broken a Jeopardy! record by becoming the 5th double-digit champion this season.

His 12th win brings him that much closer to capturing another record and cementing himself and one of the greatest Jeopardy! champs of all time. That said, he has quite a long way to go if he wants to be the best, as Jeopardy! host Ken Jennings has an astounding 74-game streak to his name.

In addition to Ryan Long’s continuing climb toward the Jeopardy! hall of fame, Monday’s episode included a highly unusual event. Jeopardy! newcomer Steve Knapp buzzed in to answer Potpourri for $1000.

As always, Mayim Bialik read out the clue. “Sadly the Heath Hen went extinct in 1932, but we still have its relative, the Prarie ‘this'” Bialik read. “Known for its courtship displays.”

Steve Knapp responded, “What is: A prairie grouse,” to which Bialik responded, “no,” before adding, “that’s a chicken!”

Well, it turns out a prairie grouse is a chicken. And after reviewing his response, judges awarded him $2000 rather than the $1000 the question was worth. This put his score at $3200, but it still wasn’t enough to beat the reigning champion, Ryan Long.