‘Jeopardy!’: Tournament of Champions Contestants Defend Ryan Bilger After Fan Backlash

by Quentin Blount

There has already been drama involving one of the contestants during the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions.

After an extended break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions is officially back. And it is the first Tournament of Champions without the show’s longtime host, Alex Trebek. In his place, former champion Austin David “Buzzy” Cohen will be hosting the two-week tournament, starting Monday.

The rules are still the same, however. 15 of Jeopardy!’s top players will face off in the tournament and three of those contestants got right to it on Monday evening. However, one of those contestants, Ryan Bilger, has already rubbed some fans the wrong way. Jeopardy! fans took to social media during Monday night’s episode to blast Bilger for being “smug” and “cocky.”

Meanwhile, Bilger’s fellow contestants have come to his defense. They label the West Virginia graduate student as a “great player” and a “great guy.”

The official Jeopardy! Twitter account posted a short clip of Bilger confidently pounding his chest.

[That feeling when] you’re about to nail a Daily Double!” Jeopardy! tweeted. “While we welcome a lively exchange with out fans, please keep the level of conversation respectful and appropriate.”

Fans and Fellow Competitors Stick Up for Jeopardy! Contestant

While many fans were turned off by Ryan Bilger’s extremely confident demeanor, others who actually know him just say that he is fiercely competitive. One fan made note that it seems like all of Bilger’s fellow competitors get along with him just fine.

“Ah, Twitter…I can promise, #Jeopardy Twitter fans, there are at least fourteen people out there who like Ryan just fine,” upcoming contestant Jennifer Quail wrote on Monday evening. “Sixteen if you count the alternates.”

A former Jeopardy! contestant, Andy Wood, even chimed in on Twitter as well.

“I love @Ryan_Bilger11 and all the contestants in this year’s ToC, and if you come for any of us you come for all of us. Dude’s a great player and a great guy.”

And finally, one of Bilger’s opponents on Monday night, Sarah Jett Rayburn, came to his defense in what is perhaps the most convincing stance of them all.

“I was standing right next to Ryan at this moment and saw in him the intense love of this game that we all share,” Rayburn said. “He’s a fierce competitor and a kind, genuine human being. I’m so happy to call him my friend.”