It’s been over a decade since Ken Jennings’ unprecedented winning streak came to an end on “Jeopardy!” but Jennings is still reeling from the loss.
“Everybody remembers the bullet that gets them,” Jennings said in an interview with Sony from 2016. “Everybody remembers the question they miss.” The “bullet” that would end his 74-day streak wasn’t about English literature or history. Instead, it was about an American tax preparation company.
After Alex Trebek revealed the clue, Jennings wrote his answer down quickly. His competitor, Nancy Zerg, took her time. At the end of the “Jeopardy!” theme song, Zerg, revealed her winning response: H&R Block.
Her $4,401 wager put her just one dollar ahead of Jennings. In a moment that lasted a lifetime, Zerg and the entire world had to pick their jaws off the floors. “Everybody is just haunted by the Final Jeopardy! [clue] they lose. It doesn’t matter if it’s game 75 or game 1.”
Even though Jennings still has some PTSD over the clue that sealed his fate, the former software developer remained positive. At the end of his stint, he shook Zerg’s hand and the two even hugged, marking the end of his “Jeopardy!” era.
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Although the game took place on Nov. 30, 2004, no one has yet to match Jennings’ 74-game winning streak that earned him $2.52 million. In addition, Jennings says he doesn’t harbor any resentment to the company that was the subject of the fateful clue.
“To this day, H&R Block does my taxes, because I have a lifetime of free H&R Block [services],” Jennings confessed. “So if you’re going to lose on Jeopardy! don’t lose on, “What is Belgium?” Belgium’s not writing you a check. Wait for the corporate question.”
His time as a contestant may have come to an end, but Jennings has since returned to the set. In January of 2020, he and Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer returned to the show for the “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” special.
This time, Jennings came back full force. On Jan. 14, 2020, 16 years after his first appearance, Jennings won the tournament, with Holzhauer finishing second and Rutter third. Awarded with the $1 million prize, he added to his previous winnings across several game show appearances. As a result, Jennings surpassed Rutter as the highest-earning American game show contestant of all time.