Alex Trebek may think that James Holzhauer is the man to beat in the Jeopardy! Greatest Of All Time Tournament next week, but another contestant in the multi-day tournament says otherwise. Ken Jennings, owner of the longest winning streak in show history, says neither he nor current Tournament of Champions winner Holzhauer are the favorite in his mind.
Jennings, who won 74 straight Jeopardy! appearances and will take on Rutter and Holzhauer on ABC beginning on Jan. 7, spoke to Seattle Refined and explained why he’s more worried about Rutter, who currently is the all-time earnings leader in Jeopardy! history. It’s Rutter, not Holzhauer, who Jennings called “the best I’ve ever seen.”
“I’ve played Brad [Rutter] in four different tournaments and he’s beat me three times,” said Jennings. “I’m like a perpetual second place finisher to Brad. Somebody said ‘Often a Bradsmaid never a Brad’ which – that really hurt. But I’ve played against him a lot and I know his game, and he’s the best I’ve ever seen. Almost unbeatable on the buzzer. I’ve been sitting in the audience when he gets an insanely hard final Jeopardy! that I didn’t know – and he just keeps a cool head. I know just from experience, to beat Brad I’m gonna need the breaks.”
Jennings is right in his logic here: Rutter’s the player he’s actually competed against a number of times and couldn’t manage to beat. There was that time an artificial intelligence machine got in the way and beat them both, but no human has ever bested him on the show. Most think Holzhauer, however, is the favorite for a variety of reasons, including that he’s the freshest out of the three. Jennings himself has called Jeopardy! a “young man’s game” in the past, so that certainly lines up, but we’ll just have to see how it shakes out next week to find out.