The three top money winners in Jeopardy! history faced off for $1 million on Tuesday night.
Jennings won his third match in the Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time contest on Tuesday. He pocketed $1 million by dispatching Holzhauer, who won one match, and Rutter, who came up empty.
The gamesmanship between the three men, considered the most accomplished and best known in the show’s modern history, proved entertaining while containing all the tension of a major sporting match.
Jennings took a strong lead in the first game of Tuesday’s match by borrowing a strategy popularized by Holzhauer, twice betting all of his points on a Daily Double and winning. He signalled his intention by imitating the gesture of a poker player pushing all of his chips to the centre of the table.
In a Final Jeopardy question about Greece, Jennings bet all 32,800 of his points on the clue: “This area of Greece, home to Pan, is synonymous with a rural paradise; it’s a setting for Virgil’s shepherd poems, ‘The Eclogues.'”
He correctly answered: “What is Arcadia?”
Holzhauer was leading in the second game of the match, when the Final Jeopardy question asked the competitors to identify the non-title character in a Shakespearean tragedy with the most speeches.
Jennings correctly answered: “Who is Iago?” But he bet none of his points.
Holzhauer then bet all of his points and answered: “Who is Horatio?”
At the end of the game, Holzhauer and Rutter put Jennings on their shoulders in honour.
Holzhauer and Rutter both took home $250,000.
Jennings took to Twitter to say that “Brad and James are just that good.”
“There’s a lot of luck in a game of Jeopardy: the categories, who finds the Daily Doubles, who misses a fluky DD or Final… If we ran this tournament back a dozen times, you’d probably see a different winner each time,” he tweeted.
He went on to compliment both Holzhauer and Rutter.
“@JamesHolzhauer is a player so dominant that, when he took on the strongest players ever in his sport, they both had to adopt his exact style of play just to contain him. THAT’s a once-in-a-generation talent,” he wrote.
“@bradrutter got some tough breaks in this tourney, but real Jeopardy-heads know him as the guy who beat me in three straight tournament finals. For over a decade, he’s really had the only credible claim as the Jeopardy GOAT,” Jennings said of Rutter.
“Buzzing against both of them at once was a Jeopardy nightmare, but also the best time I’ve ever had on TV. They’re just great and, should I ever be unable to fulfil my duties, I deputize them as co-GOATs,” Jennings added.
Rutter congratulated Jennings, writing: “Huge congrats to my old frenemy @KenJennings on his most impressive #JeopardyGOAT victory. That was the best playing I’ve ever seen and I’ve been watching @Jeopardy for 35 years. Pictured: me trying to absorb some buzzer mojo in case there’s a next time.”
Holzhauer thanked Rutter and Jennings for “a hell of a match.”
“Ken and Brad are great @Jeopardy players but even better people, and have been incredibly good sports about my kayfabe feuding and trash talk,” he tweeted.
— With files from the Associated Press