‘Jeopardy!’ Host Ken Jennings Reveals ‘Strange and Beautiful’ Fact About the Show

by Leanne Stahulak

After setting an untouched record on “Jeopardy!” and becoming one of its co-hosts, it’s safe to say that Ken Jennings knows the game like the back of his hand.

Earlier this week, Jennings took the time to answer a fan’s question about the structure of “Jeopardy!” on Twitter. The question was a fair one, and actually applicable since it happened to a contestant fairly recently.

Sports anchor Owen Siebring tagged Jennings in his tweet and said, “Maybe you’ve addressed this before, but what happens on @Jeopardy when somebody happens to win the game with like $600? If 2nd place gets 2K and 3rd place gets 1K, does the winner really earn less than both of their competitors whom they just beat?”

Jennings quote tweeted the message and replied, “Yes! Sometimes @Jeopardy is a strange and beautiful mystery.”

It is a bit off when you think about the “winner” of the game earning less money than their competitors. But at the same time, it underscores the true purpose of “Jeopardy!”. Which is to embrace and showcase your love of trivia knowledge and random facts.

While the winner might barely scrape by with even $1 more dollar than their fellow contestant, they get the chance to play again. And potentially win more money over the course of that new game. But the real prize seems to be the opportunity to keep playing.

This happened most recently to 6-day champion Megan Wachspress, who scraped by in not one, but TWO wins by just a few dollars. The results show in her end winnings, which were nearly half as much as other 6-day champions.

‘Jeopardy!’ Legend Ken Jennings Addresses Fact That Winners Get to Return, Better Than Any Prize

After he sent out the initial tweet about “Jeopardy!” being a “strange and beautiful mystery,” Ken Jennings followed up his answer to the fan’s question with the point raised above.

“Obviously you also get to come back and play again tomorrow, at a much higher expected value than any runner-up prize,” Jennings said later on in his thread.

So, he definitely agrees that while the money is a nice bonus, the real reason players step up to the podium is to highlight their trivia knowledge. Several contestants, including record-breaking super champions, are shocked to even make it past their first game. Champs like Amy Schneider have shared in the past that they just wanted to focus on that first game. Sixteen-day champ ryan Long had to go out and buy more shirts for his frequent games because he only brought two with him.

What all these super champs have in common is their focus on correctly answering the questions, not wagering the craziest amount of money.