In His First Week, Ken Jennings Sparks Jeopardy! Controversy

He allows reigning champ to correct himself, doesn't let challenger do the same
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2022 1:29 AM CDT
In First Week on the Job, Ken Jennings Sparks Jeopardy! Controversy
This image released by JEOPARDY! shows Ken Jennings, a 74-time champion the the set of the popular quiz show. Jennings will be the first interim guest for the late Alex Trebek, and the show will try other guest hosts before naming a permanent replacement.   (JEOPARDY! via AP)

It didn't take Ken Jennings long to run into a Jeopardy! controversy. In his first week as one of the two official new co-hosts of the game show, Jennings took the unusual step of allowing a contestant to correct an answer—and then followed that up, in the same episode, by not allowing another contestant to do the same. As People explains, during the show that aired Wednesday, reigning winner Luigi de Guzman was answering a question in the "Cons" category phrased as, "Here's a typical 19th-century landscape by this British painter." The clue was accompanied by a painting shown onscreen.

De Guzman's initial answer: "Who is Constant?" Jennings replied, "Say it again," to which de Guzman answered, "Sorry, who is Constable?" Jennings accepted that answer. Later in the show, Harriet Wagner answered a clue about a science fiction author with, "Who is Angela LeGuin—sorry, Ursula LeGuin." She finished stating the correct answer before her time was up, Yahoo News reports. But as she was speaking, Jennings ruled the answer wrong. He later explained that he was already in the process of doing so, since her initial answer had been incorrect, when she started to correct herself.

Jeopardy! rules state that as long as no ruling has yet been made, a contestant can correct their answer. Just $700 ended up separating Wagner, who came in third, from de Guzman, who won. Many viewers took to social media to express their displeasure, with some wondering if the move was an example of sexism coming into play while others hypothesized it could be favoritism toward the multi-day champ over a challenger. (More Ken Jennings stories.)

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