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Television Media The Almighty Buck

Adieu to Ken Jennings 523

IllogicalStudent writes "The Toronto Star is reporting that the episode of Jeopardy where Ken Jennings (a.k.a. 'The Jeopardy Guy') finally loses aired this evening. It came down to a 2-person finish (3rd had -2600 at the end of Double Jeopardy, and was eliminated) between Ken and opponent Nancy Zerg, with the final category being Business & Industry. Ken answered 'Fed Ex' to the question 'Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year,' when the correct answer was 'H&R Block.' Ken finished his record-streak with just over $2.5 Million."
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Adieu to Ken Jennings

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:29PM (#10959160)
    1. Thanks for telling me AFTER it aired! Now I missed it!

    2. Thanks for spoiling! Now I know what happens!
  • by Bryan Gividen ( 739949 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:29PM (#10959166)
    For our fallen nerd hero.
  • FedEx? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Malevolyn ( 776946 ) * <> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:30PM (#10959173) Homepage
    Does anyone else think he just got burned out and decided to be done?
    • Re:FedEx? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      > Does anyone else think he just got burned out and decided to be done?

      Either that or his earpiece implant malfunctioned... ^_^
    • Re:FedEx? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phleg ( 523632 )
      FedEx was actually a marginally reasonable guess. I would assume that a very large percentage of their business comes during Christmas.
    • Re:FedEx? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Mikail ( 817047 )
      I kind of wondered that too. Seems like a relatively easy question to miss for someone who won around $2.5 million on Jeopardy... Sure FedEx may get busy around the holidays, but they're doing stuff the rest of the year too. Not many taxes to do at H&R Block most of the year...
    • Re:FedEx? (Score:5, Informative)

      by standards ( 461431 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:42PM (#10959309)
      Does anyone else think he just got burned out and decided to be done?

      Nah. Ken did well during the last round, and he looked a little sad to go. Ken missed two daily doubles (they were tough), plus the final jeapordy answer didn't come to him. Ken wasn't obliterated during the match in any way, but missing both daily doubles PLUS the final jeapordy question did him in.

      That being said, the woman who won clearly played a great game. She deserved to win this one. She didn't answer many questions, but when she did they were the high-value questions.

      Ken can go home with all that money and the pride that comes with being such an incredible champion.

      Congrats to "today's" new champion. She outplayed Ken on today's match.
      • Re:FedEx? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SamSim ( 630795 )
        Congrats to "today's" new champion. She outplayed Ken on today's match.

        My question is, does the newcomer stand a chance of breaking Ken's record, or is it back to the regular routine on the show now?

    • I'm thinking the same thing. I'll admit H&R Block though obvious in retropect wouldn't have imediately come to mind to me, but Fed-Ex?

      Maybe he's decided to retire with his winnings and the book deal that sure to come.

    • Eh, if he was tired of playing he could have just said "I'm done", not like anyone was holding a gun to his head. Retiring as an undefeated champion would have made him even more of a legend as well.

      Also keep in mind they film several at at time in blocks, so it's likely this was either 2nd or 3rd of the day (or there were several more to film that day perhaps). Unlikely that he would just all of the sudden up and decide to throw a match.
    • Re:FedEx? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by signe ( 64498 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:56PM (#10959442) Homepage
      Well, let's see. He beat all the records (64 days on a game show was one. Just over 2 million was another one) that he had wanted to beat (he's talked about it). He had talked with his family about stepping down at some point (I was talking with his dad about this around 1.5mil somewhere). And he likes round sums of money (2.5 mil is about as round as it's going to get, unless he went to 3).

      He was tired at game 55. Personally, I think he threw this game. For almost the entire Jeopardy round he seemed to be ringing in slow. Like he was trying to allow the other players to ring in first. But they weren't doing it. Some of the answers, like Bastogne (a Daily Double), I don't believe he didn't know.

      And I have an extremely hard time believing he didn't know that Final Jeopardy answer. FedEx doesn't have 70k seasonal employees. If FedEx has a "seasonal" time of year, it would be around Christmas and wouldn't last 4 months. And FedEx employees, at least the ones who would be seasonal (package handlers, drivers, etc.), are not white collar. And everyone that I gave the question to today immediately came up with the right answer.

      I just don't buy it. I mean, I don't blame him for wanting to get out. But he also could have just said "I don't want to play tomorrow", and walked away. The rules allow for that.

      • Re:FedEx? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Keebler71 ( 520908 ) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @12:55AM (#10960432) Journal
        I personally don't think he "threw" it... but I do think he stopped caring about winning. Honestly, it must have gotten both boring and draining for him - he seems like a modest person. I think he was intentionally more reckless than normal with his daily double wagers, especially considering how close the woman (Nancy?) was to him both times he lost the daily doubles.

        My wife threw out an interesting suggestion... perhaps he went with "Fed Ex" on purpose. How much would Fed Ex pay to have Ken Jennings as their front man this holiday season? Can you hear the commercial now?

        "How can the smartest person in America be wrong? When you're in Jeopardy, Fed Ex is the answer."
        • Re:FedEx? (Score:4, Informative)

          by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @09:33AM (#10962331)
          H&R Block has offered a lifetime of financial services to Ken Jennings, and he has accepted. Don't know whether that means we'll see commercials with him or not, but they probably get to mention him a lot.

          This was from an ABC interview he did this morning. The champion was there too. She said her 2nd grader was able to keep the secret that her mom won for a couple of months.
  • Those of on the west coast haven't seen this episode yet.

    Those of us on the West Coast with TiVo won't see it for hours yet.

    Thanks, I've been following this for months, now you spoil it.

  • Silly Ken (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spatula Sam ( 770957 ) * on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:30PM (#10959179)
    The correct incorrect answer is "Who is FedEx?"
  • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:31PM (#10959183) Homepage Journal
    Nancy Zerg?!

    Fear the Swarm!

  • by CrazyJim0 ( 324487 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:31PM (#10959185)
    When you upgrade overlord speed and allow troop transport, the biggest imbalance in the game occurs.
  • Cue the "Zerg rush r0x0rs" posts...
  • blockquoth the submitter:
    Ken answered 'Fed Ex' to the question 'Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year,'
    No wonder he lost. He forgot to phrase his 'answer' in the form of a question.


  • OMIGOD! (Score:5, Funny)

    by scaramush ( 472955 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:33PM (#10959206) Homepage Journal
    Ken was zerged!!! []

    (imagines Ken being swarmed by thousands of tiny Nancies....)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:33PM (#10959207)
    During the little Q&A with Alex tonight, Ken said he was going to keep his job as a software engineer -- said he loves the people he works with, will likely work less hours.

    Does anybody know what company Ken works for? Or, what tools he uses? I wonder if he's a Java-guy, a Linux-guy, or what ...

    • According to [] Wikipedia he works for a company called CHG. They are a health care placement firm.
    • Can you imagine the amount of doublethink that would be going on in the head of the average Slashdotter if it turned out that he's a VB programmer?

      Picture the conclusion of the Darth Vader vs Luke Skywalker lightsabre battle in Empire Strikes Back with Ken Jennings in the role of Vader and the Slashdotter in the role of Luke, but instead of Vader telling Luke that he's his father, Jennings is telling the Slashdotter that he's a VB-only coder.

      I don't know about you but I can practically hear the "No. No. T
  • by ath0mic ( 519762 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:33PM (#10959210)
    that apparently Ken does his own taxes :)
  • Wow. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'd use UPS from now on if I were him.
  • (a.k.a. "The Jeopardy Guy")

    And here I thought the Jeopardy Guy was Alex Trebek.
  • threw the game (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Agent Drek ( 18979 ) <derek.marshall@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:35PM (#10959238) Homepage
    Nice round number to throw it at '75' games. It looked like he was faking it.
    • Not that I agree with you, but it's worth noting that this was also the episode after he broke the 2.5 million dollar mark. "Over a quarter of ten million dollars" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but it may be round enough.
    • His 75th game... but remember that he only won 74. It would have really seemed to be throwing it if he lost AFTER his 75th victory.
    • Re:threw the game (Score:3, Informative)

      by Radish03 ( 248960 )
      Interestingly, this ties him for the record of most consecutive appearances on a game show, and puts him one win shy of most consecutive wins on a game show. (in the records section here [].)

      Also interesting is that he was hesitant in the past to break other records, such as the most one in a single game (he tied it several times before he beat it by quite a bit.). So I wouldn't be sure whether or not he just decided it was time to stop or not.
  • OMG! (Score:5, Funny)

    by RealProgrammer ( 723725 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:35PM (#10959241) Homepage Journal
    You've killed Kenny!
  • Old News (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CAR912 ( 788234 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:39PM (#10959277)
    I downloaded the final Jeopardy! audio clip yesterday from this website [], but now the clip has been removed. (Stupid lawyers) Also, good 'ol Wikipedia []has a good story, and also had the news/info yesterday somehow.
  • Wikipedia (Score:2, Informative)

    by dutchdabomb ( 248104 ) *
    Wikipedia has chronicled Ken's life and Jeopardy run here: []
  • by JLyle ( 267134 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:42PM (#10959313) Homepage
    Don't know if he reads Slashdot but it might make for an interesting interview.
  • by miltimj ( 605927 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:45PM (#10959346)
    For all those who said he got beat bad, 0wn3d, or intentionally lost, you obviously didn't see the show.

    He bet big like he usually does on two Daily Doubles, and lost about $6K on each... they both were more difficult than average questions (IMO), and it seemed that he just didn't know them. If he would've bet 1/2 what he did, he would've been statistically unbeatable going into the final jeopardy question.

    (He was leading $14,400 to $10,000 going into the final answer)
  • That is the ultimate geek matchup: Ken Jennings vs the Zerg vs 2600.
  • by nefele ( 654499 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:46PM (#10959352)
    I, for one, welcome our new Zerg overlords.
  • ReplayTV (Score:3, Informative)

    by miltimj ( 605927 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:47PM (#10959362)
    If anyone has a ReplayTV, missed the episode, and wants it, let me know and I'll send it to you...
  • by Junior Samples ( 550792 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:49PM (#10959377)
    But Jeopardy! executives aren't complaining; ratings were up 22 per cent over the same period last time.

    Does this suggest anything?

    Is anybody old enough to remember the the "64 Thousand Dollar Question" game show back in the 50s? Remember the isolation booths and the network scandal that resulted after it was discovered that the show was rigged for the ratings? I do!

    • Buzzer system rigging is the only real way to do it, and while I doubt it, he was still dang good even if it was rigged. Also, he needn't be aware of it. But I rather suspect it wasn't rigged.
    • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @10:01PM (#10959480)
      The thing here is that Jeopardy had been falling in ratings for basically 10 years. There as no chance of a cult of personality for anyone but the host becaus after episodes the guy/gal was out. Also, the money never got that high. You had a lot of 5 time champs with something like 30-50k in winnings, maybe sometimes as high as 100k.

      Thats not big enough money to get people really watching. ABC put on "Millionaire" which could give away way more cash on a given night.

      It is not co-incidence that the ratings spike started when winners could keep winning and winning. Someone like Ken 5 years ago would have walked away with a cool $150k. No bad, but also, J! would have missed his fan base being developed and watching everynight.
  • I think maybe Jerry Seinfeld paid him off for the publicity. Think about it. The DVDs just came out for the first three seasons which apparently are not the best of the lot. The fourth and the fifth seasons are the real juicy ones. They want to milk it as much as they can. So the whole Seinfeld cast is on Oprah. Jerry is all over the TV these days. What better way to generate publicity than to make sure that Ken Jennings loss show will be one of the highest watched Jeopardy shows. So, they make all those Se
  • Did Ken Give Up? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jinsaku ( 729938 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:54PM (#10959423)
    A couple people on the threads have asked this question, and I'm pretty sure the answer is a resounding "no".

    First off, how many software engineers do we all know. Most good ones will go to extreme measures, breaking deadlines and spec sometimes, to do the *right* thing, not just to finish the project.

    Most (good) programmers want to be badasses. To impress everyone around them with their programming prowess and moxie. Ken Jennings, I believe, is probably a pretty good programmer, one of the reasons being that he is obviously a master of research, and he learns until he *knows* it, not just learning to solve a particular problem and forgetting about it.

    I mean, the guy's not stupid. How many of us would sell our souls for a job that paid $150,000 a week to work one (long) day with paid travel and lodging, and the other 6 days off? Even if the job was really difficult, and required constant brainpower, most of us would give up a lot for something like that, even if it was a short term contract.

    Nah, I think he would have gone on until he was defeated. I've seen most every episode he was in, and even up to the last one, he attacked the board with the same energy that he always did. The only mistake I think he made was betting bit on that 2nd daily double, when he was pretty far ahead, but he wanted to put the game away. When he didn't, it gave Nancy an opportunity.

    Even going into the final, with the two large daily doubles he missed, he still had the lead. The only way to lose was if he missed the question, and she got it right (or they both missed it and she bet weird). And it happened. That situation had come up at least 4 times in the past, and the odds finally caught up with him.

    Kudos Ken, you're as good as mascot as Jeopardy could have hoped for. I mean, watch a few episodes, and you can't help but like the guy.
  • anyone else think this thing was scripted? (here come the -1: troll points)...

    logically, why would anyone think fedex only works 4 months out of the year? december and what 3 other months would he be thinking of? He lost of double jeopardy also... with such a dumb look on his face, which he's never had before. Maybe i've seen 'quiz show' too many times.

    oh well, that's just my opinion, i could be wrong. conspiracy theorists put on your tin foil hats...
  • by eclectro ( 227083 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:57PM (#10959451)

    As Trebek's common-law husband, Jennings has rights, doesn't he???
  • by Stubtify ( 610318 ) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @01:29AM (#10960611)
    Funny, Here in Los Angeles I heard a radio commercial this morning around 11:30am where Alex Trebek kept talking about how "Amazing" Ken Jenning's run has been, followed by an enticing "Will he continue his amazing streak?Watch tonight to see what happens"

    Also NPR had a small blurb on their Talk of The Nation show about how the stream "may" be over, this was also earlier in the day: Id=4192614

  • by steve_bryan ( 2671 ) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @02:41AM (#10960915)
    Am I the only one who saw the odd similarity to the moment when the character played by Ralph Fiennes in the movie "Quiz Show" purposely loses? It is a movie from 1994 so it is easy to rent a copy and it is a terrific movie. It is based on a real event from the 50's.
  • by Aneurysm9 ( 723000 ) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @05:41AM (#10961546)
    Nightline ran a special on Ken's loss tonight and, who should be the sponsor at the first station break? FedEx, of course!
  • by isdnip ( 49656 ) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @02:04PM (#10964819)
    I do not think that it was rigged. Ken Jennings just had the right stuff for the show, the ability to stay unfazed while his opponents got nervous. Some folks are good at it; he's the top of the curve.

    Having seen Nightline last night, which was about Jeopardy, and prepared in advance in secret, to be aired when the show where he lost was aired, I see how secure the questions were. It's highly unlikely that anybody could have been feeding him the questions (not the answers -- it's Jeopardy -- duh!). And given the stakes, it's unlikely that they were cheating at all, even if it were to improve ther ratings and profits. Merv's credibility is on the line, after all.

    But Jennings himself explained that much of the trick was in the button. It does not get activated until Alex Trebek is finished giving the "answer", and if you press too soon, you get locked out for a fraction of a second. So there's some logic behind the button mechanism.

    I was on a TV quiz show once. I do believe that particular one was rigged. No names -- it was probably before most current Slashdotters were born. It too used a button. And I noticed that one team's buttons -- the designated winners' -- responded differently than my team's. Of course those were the days of mechanical relays; game shows weren't computerized yet. It can be quite subtle, but a fraction of a second in timing can make all the difference.

    I just found Ken's observation interesting.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"