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Jeopardy! contestant Emily Sands admits she gave Ken Jennings ‘a hard time’ over final clue despite winning tense game

Jeopardy! contestant Emily Sands admits she gave Ken Jennings ‘a hard time’ over final clue despite winning tense game

A JEOPARDY! contestant has revealed she got into it with Ken Jennings over Wednesday’s final question “after the show.”

Emily Sands said she pulled the host aside to debate the triple-stumper, which she felt put a damper on her otherwise dazzling win.

Jeopardy!Emily had a huge but not unpassable lead, opponent Carlos looked impressed[/caption]

Jeopardy!No one guessed ‘Christopher Columbus,’ which Emily said bothered her on Reddit[/caption]

Jeopardy!In a rare rebuke, she took Ken to task: ‘You couldn’t even give us a year?’ she recalled asking him[/caption]

Champ-turned-host Ken, 49, is hosting the Champions Wildcard tournament instead of regular episodes.

One, two, and three-time winners from Seasons 37 and 38 are back at the buzzer to settle the score.

Emily, a project manager from Chanhassen, Minnesota, faced Phillip Howard, a Naval officer from Santa Clarita, California and Carlos Chaidez, a civil engineer from Burbank, California.

Emily is a former three-time champ who netted $73,000 in her original 2021 run, so she was one to watch.

In Double Jeopardy! she lived up to her stats, finding both Daily Doubles and bagging $5000 and $4000 apiece. 

By Final Jeopardy!, she had a near-runaway with $25,200, while Carlos had $13,400 and Phillip $9,200.

Final Jeopardy! under “HISTORIC LETTERS” read: “A letter from him begins, ‘On the thirty-third day after I had left Cadiz, I reached the Indian Ocean.’”

No one got “Christopher Columbus,” who was describing how he had found what he believed was India (spoiler, it wasn’t India – he reached the Americas) to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain in 1493.

Phillip and Emily incorrectly wrote “Marco Polo,” while Carlos incorrectly wrote: “Magellan,” looking distraught as he had gone all-in.

Ken noted: “There’s a twist here. Columbus thought he was in the Indian Ocean, but it was the Caribbean. It was bad geography that made his voyages a success.”

Emily dropped just $1,601 to advance to the semifinals with $23,599, looking absolutely thrilled to win.


Emily took to a Reddit forum to describe her experience and shared she was not thrilled, however, with the Final question.

She explained on her wager: “Final Jeopardy: I didn’t quite have the runaway, so I wagered to cover Carlos going all-in.

She continued: “I was surprised none of us got this clue, and I even gave Ken a hard time after the show.

‘You couldn’t even give us a year?’” she recalled telling him.

“He said that would make it too easy (which is probably true).”

Emily added other tidbits about the game: “‘She Blinded Me with Science’ $800 clue – Ken had to re-record this clue as he was deemed too chipper reading about cancer.”

And: “There was a little discussion at the beginning of the Double Jeopardy! round – as Carlos and I were tied, the first selection went to Carlos as the last one to have responded correctly.”

She concluded: “Big props to Carlos and Phillip for making it a fun game.

“I recall at one point turning to Phillip and agreeing that it had been a pretty good game with only 1 triple-stumper in the Jeopardy round.”

Some fans agreed the clue was vague, as one wrote: “I was surprised about Final Jeopardy too, I actually did get that one right.

“I can understand it seeming a bit too obvious of a choice for some people though, or thinking of explorers who actually did reach Asia. Regardless, you were fantastic today.”

A second fan wrote: “I’m puzzled about FJ, specifically the category title.

“To whom would Christopher Columbus be writing a letter and, more importantly, who would deliver it?

“I briefly considered Magellan but remembered he died before completing his voyage, so I settled on Marco Polo. I figured there was already commerce between Europe and China, so he could give his letter to someone returning to Italy.”

However, a third knocked: “Amazingly, everyone was incorrect on FJ.”

A fourth wrote: “All three players were so good today, which makes it all the more impressive Emily nearly locked it up. So many great players in this tournament so far, I’m excited to see how it plays out!”

JEOPARDY!Emily will advance to the semifinals of Champions Wildcard, where there are 3 more ToC slots on the line[/caption]


Jeopardy!’s 40th season premiered on September 11 and runs until late July 2024.

Champions Wildcard has invited back a massive 108 past players (including the three winners of the Season 37 Second Chance Tournament, which kicked off Season 40) and is a brand new tournament.

Each leg of the special will feature 27 contestants, with nine quarterfinals, three semifinals, and a two-part final where one winner will emerge.

Then, the slate is wiped clean, with each leg running for three weeks.

There will be four winners by the time Champions Wildcard ends on December 18.

The purse is four $100,000 prizes and a slot in the 2023 Tournament of Champions.

Contestant Josh Saak became the first of four winners last week, and the event is now in its second group of quarterfinalists.

The 2023 Tournament of Champions, where last season’s stars like Cris Pannullo and Hannah Wilson await, begins on December 19.


Fans may want to know when Ken’s counterpart, Mayim Bialik, 47, will be back.

Ken is hosting almost the entire season solo, and Mayim is not involved as it stands.

She bowed out as a member of Saf-Aftra, a big shakeup since she and Ken were tapped to split hosting in 2022 after Alex Trebek‘s tragic death.

“It’s not for me to personally judge anyone else’s decision [but] I am a union supporter,” Mayim told Vanity Fair last month in her first public statement.

“There’s a lot of complexity to this, but my general statement is always that I come from a union family.”

The actress has only been featured once on the game show’s social media since July [seen below].

Mayim’s absence has also put a more overarching issue into the forefront: many fans prefer Ken alone as the host.

“[Mayim] is unwatchable with none of the personality that Ken brings to the show,” a fan recently wrote on X.

“Love Ken Jennings, I Hope & He The Only Host Going Forward!” another post read.

A third recently posted: “It Takes More Than Being Smart To Host Jeopardy. The Powers That Be Should Announce They Were Mistaken To Hire Hollyweird To Host Jeopardy.”

Mayim’s return date to the show is still unknown, but it will likely not be until April when new contestants resume.


Jeopardy! redid its schedule when deciding to continue despite Hollywood’s Strikes (and a lot of backlash).

The game show threw in placeholder tournaments, not knowing how long the strikes would be.

Since Season 40 premiered last month, Jeopardy! has been pulling contestants from past seasons and using old clues and clues that were previously written but never aired.

This was a way around the WGA strike since Jeopardy! was without its writers; the WGA strike was resolved last month and the writers have since returned.

Showrunner Michael Davies defended on the “Inside Jeopardy!” podcast that it “wouldn’t be fair to have new contestants making their first appearance” on the show with material that isn’t original or that was written pre-strike.

“The material that we’re gonna be using is a combination of material that our WGA writers wrote before the strike, which is still in the database and material that is being redeployed from multiple, multiple seasons of the show.”

But as a result, past player tournaments have ensued, with all regular programming being pushed aside for quite some time.

This 2023 ToC will be longer than in years past and feature its own Second Chance competition, another Champions Wildcard, and finally, the actual ToC.

So, there will be little room for new contestants or “normal episodes” this season.

Execs explained the overhauled timeline on the podcast, admitting tournament play is the “Number one priority” and “We will have 16 weeks of regular episodes at the end of the year.”

That means we won’t see new contestants until April, with just four months of regular play this year out of 11 months.

Not all fans are sold on the big change, as one recently vented: “I am sick of the current tournaments. BRING BACK REGULAR PLAY, PLEASE!”

“Oh my god, is it really until April? That’s absolutely wild,” wrote another.

Instagram/missmayimKen Jennings is hosting Seaosn 40 solo as Mayim Bialik walked out over Hollywood’s strikes[/caption]

ABCIn a bigger changeup, he’s also hosting Celebrity Jeopardy! making him the face of the show[/caption]

Instagram/jeopardySince Mayim doesn’t host tournament play, she may not be back on-screen until as late as April 2024 and is rarely even featured on social media[/caption]

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