Ken Jennings Explained Why Playing ‘Jeopardy!’ Against James Holzhauer Would Be An ‘Uphill Battle’


Ken Jennings is still a Jeopardy! legend but the new hotness is absolutely James Holzhauer. He’s won a dozen shows thus far, crushed the one-day winnings mark (twice) and is dominating the competition in a way no one has on the game show before.

Much has been made of the pro sports bettor’s run thus far, and Jennings has been asked about the current champion’s run by a number of outlets. He’s said it’s “absolutely insane” the way he plays, and winning $851,926 over a dozen episodes certainly lines up with that.

Jennings also predicted that Holzhauer’s success on the show will change the way it’s played by top contestants. And in his interview with Wired he had one last tidbit about a potential showdown between he and Holzhauer, if Jeopardy! wanted to arrange it.

“It’s certainly possible that at some point they’re going to want me and James on the same show,” Jennings said in an interview with Wired. He then explained why he’d be hesitant to consider himself the favorite.

That’s going to be a real uphill battle for me. If you compare my stats to James’, they’re almost identical. But here’s the thing: That’s not me, that’s Ken from 15 years ago, who was 29, still super mentally acute. It’s kind of a young person’s game. I’m 45. At some point, I’m just a generation behind the new crop of players, and they’re going to be a little bit sharper, a little bit faster than me, and there’s nothing I can do about it. There’s a reason why even Tim Duncan eventually retired.

One underrated aspect of a good Jeopardy! player is a quick buzzing skills, and Jennings is right about how age would be a factor. He’s still making a living with trivia, but it’s also likely he’s not nearly as well-researched as an active player. It would be really fun to see them square off, though, and as Holzhauer continues to climb closer toward Jennings’ records it would only increase the amount of attention a potential showdown would bring. Just don’t ask Jennings to bet much on himself if it happens.

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