Greatest of All Time on ‘Jeopardy!’: Who Won Game 1?


In the first game of the first match of the three biggest “Jeopardy!” stars, Ken Jennings bet everything he had on a Daily Double despite muttering seconds earlier that the category, in which each clue actually contained three clues, was “not where I feel comfortable.”

Jennings gave a cautious but correct response, doubling his points and shooting past his opponents. He heaved a sigh of relief and said, “I don’t think I could do that again.”

But in the next game of Tuesday’s hourlong “Jeopardy!” match, Jennings did do that again, betting all that he had on a Daily Double and producing the correct response: Morgan le Fay, a character in a Mark Twain novel. He sped past the two other game show greats on either side of him, James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter, for an early lead.

The two-game match came down to Jennings and Holzhauer. Both correctly answered the two Final Jeopardy clues, about the first six words of the Gospel of John (What is “In the beginning was the word”?) and an astronomer whose name was given to a comet that crashed into Jupiter and whose remains are on the moon. (“Who is Shoemaker?”)

Jennings’s 16,600-point win in the first game allowed him to bet conservatively in the second Final Jeopardy, and despite Holzhauer’s victory in the second game, Jennings won the overall match by 200 points.

With that, Jennings took the early lead in the competition for the lofty title of the “greatest of all time.”

Over its decades on air, “Jeopardy!” has become adept at finding ways to bring back its biggest stars, like “Star Wars” and Marvel do on the big screen.

Jennings, who holds the longest streak in the show’s history with 74 consecutive wins, has returned to the franchise numerous times: the Ultimate Tournament of Champions, the All-Star Games, the Battle of the Decades, a competition against I.B.M.’s Watson computer. Rutter holds the record for overall winnings, $4.7 million, amassed over years of winning these all-star tournaments.

Holzhauer holds the other major “Jeopardy!” record: most money won in a single game ($131,127), and he also has the next 15 highest totals, all accomplished during his 32-game winning streak last year.

In a series of primetime hourlong episodes that began airing on ABC on Tuesday, they are playing one another in two complete “Jeopardy!” games each night. Each contestant’s combined score in the two games determines who wins the match, and the tournament will continue until someone wins three matches. The champion will receive $1 million and the sweeping title of “greatest of all time.” The runners-up will each receive $250,000.

“I think it really is a tossup between the three players,” Andy Saunders, who runs a website called The “Jeopardy!” Fan that tracks players’ statistics, said before the first match aired. “All three of them have strengths and weaknesses. You never know what might happen.”

The matches, which were prerecorded, airs again on Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern time, 7 Central and Mountain and 8 Pacific. It will continue into next week if no one wins three matches this week.

Here’s a look at each player.



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