Coming in January 2020: Brad Rutter vs. Ken Jennings vs. James Holzhauer on ABC

Brad Rutter, James Holzhauer, and Ken Jennings are returning to Jeopardy! in 2020.

James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter are coming back to Jeopardy!

As reported on by Gary Levin of the USA Today, those 3 players are returning to ABC in January in a “Greatest of All Time” tournament.

“When James had his run last year, a lot of people were wondering, well how would he do against Ken Jennings? How would he do against Brad Rutter? (They’re) our two most successful players in Jeopardy history,” said Alex Trebek in an interview. “These three players have won close to $10 million in Jeopardy! prize money, and over 100 games among them, so it was logical.”

The tournament begins Tuesday, January 7 at 8 EST/PST on ABC, with a series of two back-to-back games (much like a Tournament of Champions final), with the player with the most combined winnings from the two games winning a “match”. Play would continue on successive nights (except Mondays) until one of them has won three matches. The winner wins $1 million, the runners-up get $250,000 apiece.

The tournament is scheduled to tape in early December; this is the first time Jeopardy! has aired in primetime since Super Jeopardy! aired in 1990.

The now-confirmed schedule is as follows:
Match 1: Tuesday, January 7 (8-9 PM Eastern)
Match 2: Wednesday, January 8 (8-9 PM Eastern)
Match 3: Thursday, January 9 (8-9 PM Eastern)
Match 4: Friday, January 10 (8-9 PM Eastern) (if necessary)
Match 5: Tuesday, January 14 (8-9 PM Eastern) (if necessary)
Match 6: Wednesday, January 15 (8-9 PM Eastern) (if necessary)
Match 7: Thursday, January 16 (8-9 PM Eastern) (if necessary)

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22 Comments on "Coming in January 2020: Brad Rutter vs. Ken Jennings vs. James Holzhauer on ABC"

  1. WOW!

    • WOW indeed. Needless to say, this was a no brainer. I was thinking put the three of them on for a whole week, but this prime time idea is much better.

  2. Wow is right! Glad James won the TOC or this GOAT matchup would be lacking and maybe in “jeopardy” (pardon the pun).

    Also somewhat amazed Jeopardy! producers and I (see my 11/15 post) had the same idea of the winner being the first to win three games, meaning a match lasting at least three games, up to 7.

    Really, really, really hope Alex is up to hosting it.

  3. I’m glad Alex will be able to witness this.

    I do wish it was live (or very close to it) instead of taped a month ahead of time, though. I have a feeling there will be leaks, since I assume there will be the usual studio audiences. More exciting live anyway.

    Also, minor, but the schedule shown above currently lists “Game” 1 thru “Game” 7, which should apparently be Match 1 thru Match 7.

  4. I find it unusual this special is airing on ABC. Will these games take place on the regular set? With the same production staff? What is the rationale for this running on a different network?

    • Yes, it will take place with the regular set and production staff. Jeopardy! is normally syndicated programming, with local rights purchased by a station in each market. (You can see the breakdown at https://mattcarberry.com/Jeopardy/j-airing.html) So, it doesn’t mean it’s “running on a different network”, and in the context that ABC was the last network to air a version of the show in prime time (1990’s “Super Jeopardy!”), it isn’t a change at all.

      • I also imagine that airing on ABC might have been chosen based on the established relationship between Sony and Disney, the network’s parent company. All eight ABC stations that are, in TV parlance, “O&Os” – that is, owned-and-operated directly by the network – carry Jeopardy!.

  5. I know I seem to be in the minority but really, haven’t these three won enough money already?

    • You’re welcome to think that, but I think ABC expects the general public to be very interested.

      • Quite right, Andy. This is about seeing the best. As a lifelong Jeopardy! fan, I am pumped. Money is the sweetener for the players, but that isn’t really why I’m going watch. (Don’t worry, Richard, the regular run isn’t going anywhere.)

  6. Absolutely love the idea and the format. The press release says the three of them have won over 100 games, but that should come with a footnote. Since Brad’s initial appearance was when they still had the 5-game limit, we’ll never know how many he could have won. He’s done pretty well since then, though.

  7. Yes they all have won alot of Money but they also have Donated alot to Charity. Our House can’t wait for it to start even booking our Winter Holiday around it. Prayer’s tp Alex❤

  8. For the record, ESPN included the news of the “Greatest Match of All-Time” on its crawl on the bottom of the screen on Monday into Tuesday morning. Makes perfect news sense — ESPN is following up on James’ T of C victory. Plus, it’s publicity for their properties, since ABC and ESPN are both owned by Disney.

    And if the James-Ken-Brad showdown runs into the following week, it will be sandwiched around the college football national championship game on Jan. 13 — great news for those who are fans of both Jeopardy! and sports!

  9. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the spoiler media will keep quiet about the winner. It may be necessary to avoid the media for the tournament like I did for the TOC finals, as at least two media outlets I know of spoiled that result (ESPN & the NY Post). That’ll be harder to do for this one due to the format.
    Wonder why the second and third place finishers get the same amount of $ in this tournament.

    • Rick:

      Due to its being syndicated television, Jeopardy! airs as early as 10:30 AM Eastern in some markets (see https://mattcarberry.com/Jeopardy/j-airing.html for more details). Thus, the Chicago Tribune often posts results at 5 PM Eastern (as the show airs at 3:30 PM Central Time in Chicago). That explains why the result breaks earlier in the day.

      However, because this specific event is network primetime, the “spoiler media” (as you put it) will be watching it at the same time as the viewers, so there will not be an opportunity for spoilers.

      • Thanks, Andy. That’s good to know. But I still think that if some media outlet somehow gets word of the winner, they would reveal it to get “clicks” (which is their top priority).

      • All viewers (and media) won’t be watching at the same time though, if it airs a 8PM EST/PST… there will be a winner known at 9PM EST, which is still two hours before it airs on the west coast. (The text above says EST/PST, but your schedule notes just “Eastern”; I assume it’ll be prime-time everywhere though, and not 5PM on the west coast?).

        As soon as someone has won two matches, it’ll be a good idea for west-coasters to avoid all media for the two hours leading up to each of the following shows, if they want to avoid spoilers.

        • Neil:

          I took that as a given, especially considering that reality television fans have been doing this for years when it comes to things like Survivor/Big Brother/The Bachelor/etc.

        • My interpretation of this is that these episodes will air in the first hour of network prime time throughout the United States. In the Eastern and Pacific Time Zones, that is 8 pm as noted above; in the other four time zones, it’s 7 pm. So Mountain Time (but not Central Time) viewers would have to also take precautions.

          Looking back over my station list, I noticed something unique about the Phoenix market. It’s the only one where these GOAT episodes might overlap with regular, syndicated Jeopardy! – which airs there at 7:30 pm on independent station KTVK. I wonder if there will be any adjustment by either that station or KNXV (the local ABC affiliate).

  10. I imagine the Jeopardy production staff is very busy thinking up a lot of tough, obscure questions to test these combatants.

  11. I’m still trying to figure out how I’d play this. I’m assuming Brad and Ken will be forced to bet more correctly, ala James., and I feel as if Brad is more apt to take on this style given that he’s a bit of an experienced poker player, himself. I do not think this will play well to ken’s style, unless there are a lot of rebounds for him.

    Hard to say that luck will have a lot to do with it too given the format. James’ FJ May be a savior, but it’s tough to tell how to judge Brad is at those vs James bc most of his FJ have been in prestigious tournament play w much tougher than average clues.

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