Wait, Ken Jennings Originally Said 'No' To Returning For Jeopardy's GOAT Episodes?

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(Image credit: Jeopardy! Screenshot / ABC)

Ken Jennings, Jeopardy! and trivia extraordinaire, has revealed he had to be egged into joining the series' Jeopardy! GOAT tournament. Before all of the primetime excitement began, Ken Jennings initially said “no” to coming back for it. Fast forward, and Jennings ended up winning the title of GOAT during an intense finale. In doing so, he defeated last year’s Jeopardy! sensation James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter.

Given how the program ended, it's hard to believe this information is true, but he confirmed it, explaining his reasoning behind initially turning down the GOAT tournament. Surprisingly, a lot of it had to do with taking on James Holzhauer being the young guy on the block.

The Jeopardy! player brought a significant buzz to the quiz show with his epic run last year, which saw Holzhauer attempt to break Jennings’ record before it all came to an end. Afterward, the idea of Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer squaring off in a Jeopardy! match was a natural question to ask. However, Jennings was not keen on taking on the gauntlet when it was first proposed to him. Of the decision to participate in the GOAT episodes, Jennings revealed he initially said 'no' before telling The Washington Post:

I didn’t think I had a chance. I felt like I was a little too old, not really on top of my game like I had been 15 years ago. James is clearly the new hotness.

While James Holzhauer was undoubtedly coming off of a more recent hot streak, Ken Jennings proved that his had not cooled off. He ended up winning and being declared the GOAT after trying his hand at Holzhauer’s own strategy. Since winning, Jennings has said that he “got some breaks” in the competition against Holzhauer and Brad Rutter, though.

While humble, Ken Jennings ended up deciding to return to Jeopardy! for the primetime competition, which begs the question: What changed his mind? Apparenty, fans of Jeopardy! can thank the show’s producers for convincing him. In explaining what happened to change his mind, Jennings draws an intriguing parallel. On changing his mind, Jennings jokingly said:

I think I’m out and then they pull me back in, like a Michael Corleone thing.

“What is a Godfather reference for $100?” Much like Al Pacino’s iconic character, Ken Jennings acknowledges the pull that brought him back to the quiz show. Thankfully, a far safer allure to have in one’s life than the one that called Michael Corleone. If his Jeopardy! victory has anything to say about it, the newly-declared GOAT clearly made the right call.

Now fans will have to wait and see what the future has in store for Ken Jennings. Following a sensational performance in the ratings, it has led to questions surrounding a long-term stint for Jeopardy! in primetime. As for Jennings, ABC has already expressed interest in bringing back him and the rest of the GOAT trio for another show.

Hopefully, Ken Jennings would end up saying “yes” if such an opportunity were to manifest. In the meantime, you can check your local listings to find out when Jeopardy! airs in your area. It will be airing new alongside this winter’s premieres. You can relive past matches of the popular quiz show on Netflix, among other new 2020 content.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.