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Jeopardy's Ken Jennings Says Fan Confused Him With Actor Richard Jenkins, And Twitter Had Some A+ Jokes

Ken Jennings on Jeopardy and Richard Jenkins in Rumor Has It...
(Image credit: CBS Media Ventures/Netflix)

Cases of mistaken identity probably aren’t all that uncommon for celebrities. People recognize them from somewhere, and maybe they get mixed up about exactly where they’ve seen them before. However, Ken Jennings — who was recently made a permanent host of Jeopardy! alongside Mayim Bialik — shared some fan mail he got in which he was asked to sign photos of esteemed actor Richard Jenkins. In addition to not looking anything alike, Jennings and Jenkins have a wholly different body of work, and this led to some pretty amazing jokes from the Twitterverse.

Ken Jennings, one of the biggest winners in Jeopardy! history, doesn’t share much in common with Richard Jenkins, the Emmy winner and two-time Academy Award nominee, who’s known for his work in the theater, as well as movies and TV series including The Shape of Water, The Visitor, Olive Kitteridge, Six Feet Under, Burn After Reading and many more. So one can’t fault the trivia master for being a little confused when he received this package in the mail. Jennings shared:

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The photos are all from Richard Jenkins’ 2008 comedy Step Brothers, in which he plays Robert Doback, father to John C. Reilly’s Dale and stepfather to Will Ferrell’s Brennan. A classic, to be sure, but not in the same “please phrase your answer in the form a question” way that Ken Jennings is accustomed to. The strange occurrence even caught the attention of comedy actor Andy Richter, who hilariously told him:

Just freaking sign them

Ken Jennings relented, telling the Semi-Pro actor, “ok but I’m signing them ‘J. K. Simmons.’” In all likelihood, an autograph-seeker probably just put the wrong photos in the envelope, and one Twitter user imagined that somewhere out there, Richard Jenkins was having a similar experience:

Somewhere, Richard Jenkins is opening an envelope full of photos of Ken Jennings.

Others, like this fan, saw the opportunity to fulfill a classic gag from The Simpsons, in which a photo of Sean Connery featuring Roger Moore’s autograph was being sold for $150. Do I smell a collector’s item in the making?

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There’s a joke to be made there about Sean Connery and Will Ferrell in the classic Saturday Night Live “Celebrity Jeopardy!” sketch, I’m sure. Some fans were suspicious that Ken Jennings might be the victim of a prank, because Jeopardy! fans know fellow super champ James Holzhauer can never resist the chance to take a crack at the GOAT. One Twitter user said:

I bet this is a prank by Holzhauer

And of course there was the Step Brothers humor, with one fan tweeting that there might be some pretty high stakes involved in the autographing of the photos:

I'd suggest signing them—lest your invite to the Catalina Wine Mixer be rescinded.

Ken Jennings may not have Richard Jenkins' comedic acting credits to his name, but the man has been known to crack a dad joke or two, even if they were so bad Jennings offered an apology, despite fans appearing to be into it. Similarly when he returned to Jeopardy! to host Season 38’s final episodes, Jennings made a real groaner of a joke about circumcision.

Fans look forward to seeing more of Ken Jennings when Jeopardy! returns for Season 39. In the meantime, Mayim Bialik will be behind the lectern when Celebrity Jeopardy! premieres on Sunday, September 25. Check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what other premieres are coming up soon!

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.