Ken Jennings Says ‘Jeopardy!’ Forced Him to ‘Come Out of the Trivia Closet’
Now that Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings is practically a game show icon, it’s hard to believe he ever doubted his trivia prowess.
But doubt it the 74-game quiz show winner did. As Jennings termed it, winning on Jeopardy! “outed” him from a life of loving factoids, a freeing experience that he hadn’t fully embraced. Until now.
Jennings is now a producer on ‘Jeopardy!’
The Jeopardy! GOAT, it was announced recently on the program’s Instagram account, is now on staff at the long-running game show as a consulting producer. He will begin his duties as the show’s 37th season gets underway on Sept. 14.
In the post, a video featured Trebek and Jennings with the message: “Getting hyped for #Jeopardy37? So are we! Check out this sneak peek of what’s to come September 14.”
“We’ve made some changes,” the 80-year-old Trebek said in the video. “And I think you’re going to like them!”
An announcer then added, “The greatest player of all time joins the Jeopardy! team. Entire categories presented by the GOAT himself.”
At the end of the video, Trebek reassures viewers, “Don’t worry, I’ll still be the host. And I’m looking forward to seeing you.”
Ken Jennings, the GOAT
Once the pandemic began and filming was stopped on the game show, Jeopardy! began airing in May 2020 the Greatest of All Time Tournament, which originally aired in January of 2020.
And of course, Jennings took the trophy home at the end of it all.
“It’s really just been the most delightful part of the whole thing—and has been from the beginning—just that it was always legitimately my favorite show,” the former software engineer told Interview in Jan. 2020.
“Just to win once was good enough, you know? I felt like, “Now I’m good. No matter what else happens, I died a Jeopardy! champion.”
Why Jennings says he felt ‘outed’ after winning ‘Jeopardy!’
In his 2006 book, Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs, confessed that he has always privately been a down-low trivia whiz but had finally come to terms with this part of his identity and was revelling in it.
“I decided once upon a time that Knowing Weird Stuff,” he wrote, “for want of a better name for it, was an annoying penchant, a kiddie game, and I spent years pretending I didn’t care for it.”
Jennings was grateful to the game show, to the process, and to his victory, for introducing him once again to the pleasure he enjoyed in trivia.
“By winning on Jeopardy!, I fulfilled a childhood dream of mine in big, glitzy, bug-eyed Make-A-Wish Foundation style. How often does that happen? No matter what happens to me now, I’ll always have Jeopardy! It was nice to give a brief boost to that endangered species, the American game show.”
The father of two admitted that, even more, he was “grateful to Jeopardy! because it reintroduced me at long last, to trivia. I came out of the trivia closet on national TV, in front of tens of millions of people. I can never again quietly pretend I don’t remember the name of some band’s bassist. What’s more, I don’t really want to pretend anymore.”