The Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time Tournament doesn’t officially air until Tuesday, but good luck trying to wager on whether James Holzhauer can beat Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings in one of the most anticipated game show events in modern history.
According to one sportsbook, the show’s results have leaked out, causing the organization to freeze bets amid concerns that wagering from one bettor was done with the results of the tournament in hand. The story comes from ESPN gambling writer David Purdum, who did well not to spoil the actual results of the tournament while writing about a situation where at least one sportsbook thinks the word is out on the street as to who wins the $1 million prize and the title of Jeopardy! GOAT.
Three weeks ago, in the days after the GOAT tournament was taped, a flurry of bets showed up on one contestant, who we’ll call Contestant X to avoid spoiling the outcome. Bookmakers on the receiving end of those bets are convinced there was a leak.
The bets on Contestant X could be winners or losers, sharp (pro) or square (public); we don’t know either way. All we know for sure is that in mid-December, savvy bettors, armed with what they believed was the inside scoop, unleashed enough bets on Contestant X that multiple sportsbooks decided to take the odds off the board.
The bets here are small, at least relative to other sports wagering, but the evidence indicates that someone knows something about what happens in the already-taped primetime event.
On Dec. 19, prominent offshore sportsbook Pinnacle took two $500-limit bets on Contestant X from the same account. The next day, three more max bets on Contestant X were placed from the same account, and Pinnacle took the odds off the board.
“I’m pretty sure at this stage that [the bettor] knew what was happening,” Marco Blume, trading director for Pinnacle, told ESPN.
Avoiding spoilers on this may prove more difficult than most Jeopardy! games, tapings of which are also done months in advance and sometimes “leak” out. Show producers have always marveled that audiences, for the most part, don’t leak results they witness in person. But some results do get out when markets where the show airs in syndication in the morning, not after local news programs in the evening, share the results online. The first reason is Holzhauer, a gambler by trade who lives in Las Vegas and has added a lot of wagering interest to the game show.
Then there’s the format of the tournament itself: a first to three wins setup that means we don’t actually know how many nights the GOAT Tournament will air. Basically, if one television listing shows something other than Jeopardy! airing on ABC at 8 p.m. on what would be, say, day 4 or 5 of the tournament, we’ll know someone has won it, likely the person who already has the most wins. What we’re saying here is that if you want the tournament’s results to get ruined for you, there are a lot of places to look. But that doesn’t take away from the excitement of watching it all go down and seeing which elite Jeopardy! player will prevail over the course of the next week.