Brad Rutter didn’t have the best showing of the three contestants during the Jeopardy! GOAT Tournament, and he isn’t mincing words about his struggles against James Holzhauer and Ken Jennings. It was Jennings that claimed the $1 million top prize and a fancy trophy on Tuesday, while Rutter and Holzhauer were given $250,000 for their efforts.
It’s not a bad payday for four nights of work, but Holzhauer will likely feel much better about his effort than Rutter, who didn’t manage to win a single game during the event, let alone an overall match. Rutter struggled against Holzhauer’s all-in blitzkrieg strategy, while Jennings was able to adapt to gambler’s style and come up with a winning strategy of his own.
Holzhauer ribbed Rutter pretty good for his performance during the event, both on Twitter and during the tapings themselves. And he also made it clear he appreciated just how talented the trivia ace is in his own right. But in speaking to the Washington Post, Rutter wasn’t making many big excuses for his own struggles. He told the paper he was no good at what is usually his best asset on the Jeopardy! stage: timing things right on the signaling device.
“I couldn’t get the buzzer mojo going, and that has usually been one of my strengths,” Rutter, a very good sport, told us. “So when you’re dealing with a match like this, it can come down to a 100th of a second in terms of timing. Ken and James were able to get that down, and unfortunately I wasn’t.”
Rutter’s downfall wasn’t just timing, either: He found 10 Daily Doubles during the course of eight matches, but only got four of them right despite going all-in on all of them. It was a huge series of mistakes that essentially ruined his chances of making an impact on the game while limiting the earning potential of a player like Holzhauer, who bet big on those Daily Doubles to amass huge scores and blow out opponents. It was something Rutter simply couldn’t do against Holzhauer and Jennings, but he stressed he didn’t get frustrated in the moment.
“You can’t really afford to let yourself get frustrated” by wrong answers, Rutter explained. “One of the reasons I’ve had success is [being able to] put it behind me and focus on the next clue.” However, he acknowledged it was probably frustrating for viewers to watch at home. “When I was actually up there, I was just worried about what was coming next.”
The good news is that despite some people being critical on social media, Rutter said that most have treated him well.
“You expect people on Twitter to be terrible,” Rutter told WaPo, “But there were many more nice people than terrible people.”
I’m sure the large cash prize for competing helps here, too.