Generations of people in America grew up watching the television game show Jeopardy!. Trivia nerds and television buffs alike love to watch the show. Over the last few decades, it has gained an audience of millions of people who watch every episode and play along at home. The recent Greatest of All Time tournament brought together the top three contestants the show has ever seen, the greatest host of all time, and a broad audience to create an event that is more than just television-as-usual.
Over the last few decades, some of the champions of the show have gained popularity online. These few include Ken Jennings, who has the highest record of earnings from regular Jeopardy! games, James Holzhauer, who holds at least the top 10 record spots for highest earnings in a single game, Brad Rutter, who holds the highest earnings in Jeopardy! history, and Austin Rogers, who simply gained his following from his outgoing and goofy personality.
At the beginning of this month, Holzhauer, Jennings, and Rutter were to compete in what was deemed the Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time tournament. This was set to be a prime-time television event with the three men competing for a prize of $1 million. The other two men were both to receive $250,000. Ken Jennings ultimately won the title of Jeopardy!’s Greatest Player of All Time, winning the $1 million prize.
The players made the competition into a game outside of the game. The trio engaged in Twitter banter over the entirety of the tournament, trash-talking each other and sharing memes about the event. Holzhauer changed his profile photo to a photo of a goat, all three men shared memes directed at their opponents and even took quizzes that told them which G.O.A.T. player they were (Jennings and Rutter got themselves, Holzhauer got Jennings). Jeopardy! fans across the country engaged, shared and commented on these memes and it started to bring a community together.
This tournament has turned into so much more than just a television event. In March of 2019, Trebek announced to fans that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He went into remission for a short period of time but has since announced that he is still fighting stage four pancreatic cancer and is preparing for the end of his career. Trebek has stated he wants to continue to host the show as long as he can, but fans have noticed changes in his mannerisms and appearance. Despite the unfortunate news, Trebek continues to be the greatest host he can be.
This tournament takes the greatest players along with the greatest host and pulls them together, making it an emotional event for fans across the country. The banter and Twitter interactions pull fans into the loop, allowing them to be a part of the action from home. Many fans grew up watching the show with their families. They will play along at home and choose which player they want to root for.
In my own family, we would watch every night and play together as a sort of tradition. Jeopardy! is more than a game to many families. This tradition has lasted for years, and we still watch it when we can. Having this tournament close to the end of a wonderful streak is emotional for fans and players. Each of the tournament players wore a purple ribbon pinned to their shirts, a symbol for pancreatic cancer and their support for Trebek.
Obviously, fans want this community to last as long as possible, but there is a chance that there will be a big change soon; I think this event was a good way to prepare for the end. This event signifies the best of all time for the whole length of Jeopardy!, and it is a heartwarming conclusion if the end is near.
This tournament brought together generations upon generations of people. The unification of people across the country is something beautiful and not often seen. Hopefully there will be many more tournaments in the future of Jeopardy!, but I think this was a good way to tie up loose ends if that isn’t the case.