Ken Jennings won the “Jeopardy!” Greatest of All Time tournament, and now, he’s opening up on how he managed to snag the title.
Jennings, who was up against fellow greats Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer, is crediting his win to one of his rivals. “You have to bet big. That’s the only way to beat him. I watched so many James Holzhauer tapes just to prep for this,” he said in an interview with People.
“It’s a tribute to how he’s changed the game, his dominance… Brad and I just knew intuitively that whoever would win was going to do it by doing their best James Holzhauer impression,” he continued.
And despite the heated rivalry, Jennings admits that he and Holzhauer are actually great friends. “We’ve actually become very good friends, even though we have very different ‘Jeopardy!’ styles,” he reveals.
Jennings, who lives in Seattle with his family, revealed how hard it was to keep his win to himself, as the show was taped about a month before it was broadcast. “I told my wife, but nobody else knew,” Jennings said.
“I knew it was going to be a thrilling series, so I wanted people to watch on TV. My kids in particular were a little annoyed. My son was like two years old when I was first on ‘Jeopardy!,’ but now he’s 17 and did not like being kept in the dark,” Jennings says of his winning moment.
And while viewers seemed to think that competitor Rutter didn’t stand a chance, Jennings has different opinions about the player. “Brad is the most tenacious ‘Jeopardy!’ player I’ve ever seen – best I’ve ever played. He just never got his footing,” the former computer programmer revealed.
Now, Jennings credits “Jeopardy!” for being able to turn his life around for the better. “I was kind of a borderline unhappy, unskilled computer programmer before I went on the show, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Thanks to ‘Jeopardy!,’ I turned it around. I’m now a freelance writer, which I love, and speak on a podcast twice a week,” he said.