It all came down to the final seconds. Holzhauer, who won one match last week, was poised to win this one if he answered Final Jeopardy correctly. Alas, he did not (neither did Rutter, who had no chance anyway), and Jennings walked away with the $1 million prize. Holzhauer and Rutter will each receive $250,000.
“The greatest of all time ‘Jeopardy!’ champion,” host Alex Trebek gushed in the closing minutes, as he handed Jennings a giant trophy.
Jennings, who still holds the “Jeopardy!” winning streak with 74 games in 2004, started off the hour-long episode strong. He ran away with the first game of the night after triumphing with a Daily Double in the Double Jeopardy round, bringing his total to more than 30,000 points and making it impossible for Holzhauer and Rutter to catch up. After the first game, he had 65,600; Holzhauer had 34,181; and poor Rutter had zero after he bet everything and got the Final Jeopardy question wrong.
This led to possibly the most epic burn in “Jeopardy!” history, as the contestant scoreboards all changed to zero as they got ready to start the second game.
“Hey, Brad’s score is still on there,” Holzhauer piped up, leading at first to a brief pause and then gasps from the crowd. Hey, no one said you had to play nice in “Jeopardy!” when $1 million is on the line.
Unfortunately, even getting brutally scorched like that did not motivate Rutter. He flailed in the second game, as well, as Holzhauer dominated most of the time. He won the first round by a few thousand points but then pulled a classic “Jeopardy James” by betting all of his 20,200 points when he got the Daily Double. The category was “Surprise Me, Trebek.” The clue: “This big landlocked African country was surprised to be added to the USA’s 2017 travel ban, but was removed from the list in 2018.”
Holzhauer paused for a long time. “What is Chad?” Correct! His total jumped to 40,400, leaving Jennings (19,800) and Rutter (1,000) far behind.
It was Holzhauer’s match to lose, and all came down to Final Jeopardy: The totals from the second game were Holzhauer with 44,000, Jennings with 23,000 and Rutter with 1,400. The category was “Shakespeare’s Tragedies,” with the clue, “He has 272 speeches, the most of any nontitle character in a Shakespeare tragedy.”
Rutter, who knew his game was over, wagered zero and simply wrote, “You’re the best, Alex!” (Awww.) Jennings guessed Iago, which was correct, but he played it safe and wagered zero. So his total for the match was 88,600 points.
Then everyone held their breath for Holzhauer: He wagered everything but (shockingly) incorrectly wrote Horatio, which meant his total was 34,141. Jennings won!
Jennings triumphantly walked over to shake Trebek’s hand as the audience went wild. “It has taken 15 years for Ken Jennings to finally answer the question: Is he as good as he appeared to be in that great run on ‘Jeopardy!’?” Trebek said.
Jennings briefly hoisted his trophy in the air, confirming the answer was … absolutely yes.