Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer, and Brad Rutter may have been competitors on “Jeopardy!” but that didn’t prevent them from having friendly relationships. As fans of the show are aware, the three famous contestants faced off in its The Greatest of All Time Tournament during early 2020.
Ken Jennings talked about his relationship with the other famous “Jeopardy!” champions during a November 2020 interview with PopCulture. During the interview, reporter Brian Jones asked him if he, Holzhauer, and Rutter “stay in touch” and if they have “a good relationship” away from the show.
“We do, actually,” Kennings said. “We’re all kind of friends.”
One reason the three champions get along is that they are part of a club that only a few can enter.
“I think it’s just because there’s such a small number of people who understand what it’s like to win on ‘Jeopardy!’, much less kind of running the gauntlet of all these high-pressure, high-stakes tournaments,” Jennings explained. “And you kind of bond when you’re in that kind of environment.”
Ken Jennings Said Champions Play ‘Against’ the Game of ‘Jeopardy!’ – Not Each Other
According to Ken Jennings, being friendly with other contestants on “Jeopardy!” is easy for another reason. This reason is that, from his perspective, players don’t really compete against one another – they compete against something “scary.”
“And really, I think a lot of it is that you don’t have the sense that you’re playing against each other,” Jennings explained. “You really feel like you’re playing against that big, scary gameboard, you know. Somebody has written 60 very devious clues and you’re trying to outsmart those people. You’re trying to beat ‘Jeopardy!’ – not James or Brad.”
Also during the interview, Ken Jennings shared a few details about the time he spent with one of his fellow famous “Jeopardy!” champions.
“So, we’re still friends, yeah. Brad (Rutter) actually came over to my house a few weeks ago for a socially-distanced barbecue,” Jennings said. “He’s spending his summer in Seattle now. We hang out.”
You check out Ken Jennings talking about his relationship with other “Jeopardy!” champions below. His comments on this topic begin around the 4:55 mark of the interview.
In addition to being friendly with his fellow “Jeopardy!” champions, Ken Jennings also respects them for how they played the game. In fact, he said during the interview that James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter “reinvented” how “Jeopardy!” is played.
“When I went on ‘Jeopardy!’ in 2004 it was a very different game. You know, players like James and Brad really kind of reinvented the game by, kind of, applying game theory and gambling theory,” Jennings also said in November 2020. “You know, making big, scary wagers. Tackling different ways to – different orders of approaching the gameboard. Taking the clues in a different order. Different things you can do like that to keep your opponents off-balance.”