Through three games the Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time Tournament was everything longtime fans of the show had hoped for, as Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer, and Brad Rutter dazzled audiences with a staggering command of trivia knowledge, some big wagering, and exciting matches.
Night four was more of the same, producing one of the most dramatic moments in the show’s history as Holzhauer desperately fought to keep Jennings from a coronation on Tuesday. The result was a Final Jeopardy that will be talked about for years to come, and at the end of the day, a $1 million prize and the title of the greatest Jeopardy! player ever for Ken Jennings.
Jennings won thanks to some big betting in the first game of the night, giving him a considerable lead he was able to hang on to despite a frantic challenge from Holzhauer ,who did everything he could and actually had a chance to extend the tournament another night if he knew his Shakespeare. But before all that happened, a thrilling hour of prime time game show started with a greeting from Alex Trebek, who fully understood the weight of what could happen on Tuesday.
“If this were a sporting event I would every comfortable saying we are about to go into sudden death overtime,” Trebek said before things got underway.
We also got a shot of the trophy the winner will be given, much like when the Stanley Cup is wheeled out in a venue where an NHL team can win the title. With that on everyone’s minds, the night got underway. The first Jeopardy round featured categories that were all ABC television show names. Holzhauer went first and thought Stump Town had the Daily Double, but lost control of the board searching for it. Jennings then found it in The Good Doctor for 1,000, betting it all (3,800) and getting a tough question about the Egyptian god Imhotep correct. Brad finally got on the board halfway through the round, but Ken dominated much of it thanks to his double up, ending the first Jeopardy round with 12,800. Holzhauer was second with 4,400 while Brad was once again in third place with 2,400.
Brad went first in Double Jeoparday once again, and once again he found another Daily Double and a chance to tie James in second place with a question about British Stuff. He wagered his entire 4,800, but guessed English scientist Michael Faraday, not the correct answer, James Clark Maxwell. Once again dropped to zero and absolutely snakebit on Daily Doubles, Rutter was effectively shut out of the match once again.
Holzhuer continued to pick off questions here and there, but again it was Jennings who got the final Daily Double of the match, again beating Holzhauer at his own game. Jennings went all-in on his 15,200, drawing gasps from the crowd as Holzhauer was just behind him in second place. His question about The Rose Tattoo doubled his score to a staggering 30,400 and at the time it felt like his title may already be wrapped up, but Holzhauer kept playing and largely kept control of the board.
By the time Final Jeopardy arrived, it was a game again: Jennings had added just 2,400 to his score to sit at 32,800, while Holzhauer had come back to within striking distance at 22,800 and Rutter had 2,000. The Final Jeopardy category “It’s All Greece To Me” was tough, with Rutter getting it wrong and dropping back to zero. Holzhauer was right, with Arcadia, and bet relatively conservative to add 34,181. Jennings was right, too, and in a stunning move he went all-in once more. His 65,600 almost certainly sealed up the victory, unless Holzhauer had a huge second game and bridged the gap enough to steal a victory.
In game two, Ken found the Daily Double with just 1,000 on the board, a huge win for him because it limited Holzhauer’s ability to gain money quickly. He didn’t get a response in before the buzzer sounded, but it was a win for him no matter what. With no way of doubling up big, he needed to get a lot of questions right and hope for the best in Double Jeopardy. He didn’t do too bad, ending the Jeopardy round in the lead with 8,200. Kennings was close behind with 5,600 while Brad got just three questions right in the round for 1,000 points. It’s unclear whether some gamesman ship was at play here, as Holzhauer was basically the only hope to continue the match any further, but it did keep things interesting.
Brad was first again in the second Double Jeopardy of the night, and curiously went for a 400 question, perhaps another bit of gamesmanship. But Jennings immediately went Daily Double hunting, and he found it in Vice Presidents for 2,000
“There’s a case to be made for a small wager here,” Jennings said, though Holzhauer disagreed, drawing laughs from the audience. He wagered 5,000 and got the question right, upping his lead to 13,800.
Holzhauer desperately went searching for the last Daily Double to get back into the game, and finally found it in Surprise Me, Trebek for 1600. It was a question about the U.S. immigration ban in 2017. Holzhauer had no choice but to go all-in, and a pained expression came over his face when he answered the landlocked nation of Chad. He could only laugh as he seemingly surprised himself by guessing right — Holzhauer had saved his game, and potentially extended the tournament in the process.
It was far from over, though, and Holzhauer needed to keep pressing. He did, adding another 3,600 to his total while Jennings raced to make up ground. Holzhauer finished the Double Jeopardy round with a whopping 44,000 and took 34,181 from his first game into the last question. Jennings had 23,000 in game two and took 65.600 into Final Jeopardy from his first match, while Brad got a handful of questions right in Double Jeopardy, but remained largely out of the picture and took just 1,400 into Final Jeopardy total.
Final Jeopardy was a clue from the category Shakespeare’s Tragedies. With both Jennings and Holzhauer essentially needing to double up, the wagers were clear. It came down to who knew the answer. The trophy was on the podium for the question, which was: “He has 272 speeches, the most of any non-title character in a Shakespeare tragedy.”
Rutter answered first, “You’re the best, Alex!” He risked nothing, ending with 1,400. Jennings answer was Iago, which was correct. He wagered nothing, a bold strategy but one that doomed him if Holzhauer answered correctly. His 88,600 could be enough if Holzhauer didn’t get the question right. Holzhauer raised his eyebrows when the camera came to him, but he answered wrong. It was not Horatio, which he answered. He wagered it all, but it didn’t matter, and as a result, the trophy and $1 million went to Jennings.