Former Jeopardy! contestant Ken Jennings was named the first interim host after Alex Trebek’s death. Ahead of episodes taped with him airing, Jennings apologized for past tweets. Here’s what happened and what he said.
Ken Jennings is a popular contestant in ‘Jeopardy!’ history
Jennings became famous when he broke the record of the most wins in Jeopardy! history. His streak began in 2004, lasting for five months. He earned more than $2 million for his initial run, setting a world record for cash earned on a game show and making him a household name.
In the years that followed, Jennings remained connected to the show. He returned for multiple special Jeopardy! competitions, including the “Greatest of All Time” tournament, which aired in January 2020. Once again, Jennings was the winner, taking home a $1 million first-place prize.
After Alex Trebek died in 2020, Jennings was named interim host
In 2019, Trebek was diagnosed with cancer. He died in November 2020. “Alex wasn’t just the best ever at what he did,” Jennings tweeted after the announcement of his death. “He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I’m grateful for every minute I got to spend with him.”
Years before his death, Trebek indicated Jennings would make a good replacement host. Jennings became a consulting producer on Jeopardy! in September 2020, later receiving this additional duty. “We will resume production on 11/30 with a series of interim guest hosts from the Jeopardy! family – starting with Ken Jennings,” tweeted the show’s official account.
Offensive tweets resurfaced following the announcement
While this move wasn’t unexpected for Jeopardy! fans, some weren’t happy to hear Jennings’ name in conjunction with the show. After all, he made headlines in previous years for offensive tweets, specifically one in which he allegedly wrote, “Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair.”
In 2018, one Twitter user remarked on this, writing, “I don’t believe Ken Jennings ever apologized for” the tweet. “I never did a public flogging thing for this but I did apologize personally to angry/hurt people who reached out personally,” Jennings replied. He later deleted the original tweet.
Jennings apologized for his past remarks
More than a month after announced as interim Jeopardy! host, Jennings took to Twitter to issue a larger apology. “I just wanted to own up to the fact that over the years on Twitter, I’ve definitely tweeted some unartful and insensitive things,” he began. “Sometimes they worked as jokes in my head and I was dismayed to see how they read on screen.”
He continued. “In the past, I’d usually leave bad tweets up just so they could be dunked on. At least that way they could lead to smart replies and even advocacy. Deleting them felt like whitewashing a mistake.” Jennings added. “But I think that practice may have given the impression I stand by every failed joke I’ve ever posted here. Not at all!”
“Sometimes I said dumb things in a dumb way and I want to apologize to people who were (rightfully!) offended,” the thread continued. “It wasn’t my intention to hurt anyone, but that doesn’t matter: I screwed up, and I’m truly sorry.”
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