Rick Millians

Rick Millians

Category: Game shows.

$2,000 clue: These three contestants are competing for a $1 million grand prize and the right to be called the greatest Jeopardy player of all time.

Answer: Who are Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer?

Yes, these three brainiacs are battling in a prime time special that started Tuesday and could stretch for several days. One player must win at least three games to claim the million bucks. The other two go home with $250,000 each.

No less than Alex Trebek himself said Jennings, Rutter and Holzhauer "are already the greatest (Jeopardy players), but who is the best of the best?"

In case you forgot, Jennings holds the record for the longest Jeopardy winning streak with 74 games, winning $3,370,700. Rutter won $4,688,436, the most in TV game show history. In just 32 games, Holzhauer won $2,712,216 and holds the top 15 single-game winning records, many above $100,000.

I love watching Jeopardy. There are nights when I might not get any correct answers (in the form of a question). But it's still fun to try. And on those nights when I know some answers, well, I feel like King Cranium. 

I'd love to be a contestant, but it's too late. No guts, no glory. Now, I'm lucky to remember what I walked in the next room to get. But I did work with two Jeopardy contestants at a newspaper in Cincinnati. One was leading going into Final Jeopardy but missed and finished last. I forgot how the other guy finished. 

Of course, it all comes down to which categories you get. 

The ten most common categories on Jeopardy are: 1. Before & After; 2. Science; 3. Literature; 4. American History; 5. Potpourri; 6. World History; 7. Word Origins; 8. Colleges & Universities; 9. History; and 10. Sports.

If I get Before & After, Science or World History, I'm a dead man walking. Is it just me, or do they have the same Shakespeare questions about once a month? 

If I luck out and get Sports, Colleges & Universities or American History, I've got a chance. My favorite categories are Newspapers & Magazines, as well as American Cities, but those don't seem to pop up as much. 

Another thing I notice a lot is that many of the best Jeopardy contestants (James Holzhauer being the exception because his real job is a professional sports bettor) are clueless when it comes to sports. 

I was watching one time when the category was Talkin' Football. Not once did a single contestant attempt to answer any of the five clues. 

Sample clue: Coach Tom Landry perfected the shotgun formation with this NFL team in Texas.

Answer: Who are the Dallas Cowboys?

Or they didn't know that Mean Joe Green, he of the Coke commercial in which he pitched his jersey to a kid,  played for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

C'mon. That's sad.

And those Final Jeopardy questions. The music (the Final Jeopardy song is named "Think") playing as the 30 seconds tick down. Oh, the pressure. 

Try this one:

Clue: In 1937 his sister said he had hats of every description which he would use as a foundation of his next book.

Answer: Who is Dr. Seuss?

While it's no Family Feud game show where hilarity reigns, Jeopardy can have its humorous moments.

Clue: This term for a long-handled gardening tool can also mean an immoral pleasure seeker.

One contestant rang in: What is a hoe?


Correct answer: What is a rake.

Trebek continues to be the Jeopardy ringmaster in his 36th season even as he battles stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

In his usual banter with the contestants after the first commercial break, Trebek was told by one that he planned to be married in Montenegro.

Trebek: Why Montenegro? 

Contestant: Two reasons. My fiancee's last name is Montenegro and a friend told me about a beautiful chapel on a man-made island. 

Trebek: It's a good thing your fiancee's last name is not Antarctica.

So, who'll be the best-ever Jeopardy player? Jennings, Rutter or Holzhauer? All three are amazing. How do they remember all that stuff?

I'm surprised the ABC TV hype machine has not come up with some kind of nickname for this threesome.

One thing they won't be calling them is the Three Stooges. 


— Rick Millians, a 1970 Baldwin High graduate, was an award-winning sports editor at newspapers in Georgia, Ohio and South Carolina before retiring to Milledgeville. He can be reached at rdmillians@aol.com.

React to this story:


Recommended for you