It’s the week before the first game of Jeopardy‘s eagerly awaited “Greatest of All Time” tournament, as the three biggest money-winners in the quiz show’s history face off for the first time. The show is a rare primetime version of Jeopardy! and will be hosted by Alex Trebek, airing January 7 at 8-9 PM ET/PT.
Jennings spoke with a Seattle publication about his chances in the tournament. He brings his record 74-game winning streak and total winnings of $3.370,700 to the table, but admits that he’s at a slight disadvantage at age 48, some 15 years removed from his glory years on the show.
Jennings is the most seasoned of the three players, in more ways than one.
“I can tell you firsthand that age matters on Jeopardy! he said. “I wish it didn’t because I am 15 years older than when I first played, but I can tell the difference. I’m a little bit slower on coming up with names, and my rhythm isn’t that great on the buzzer.”
Jennings has been watching a lot of Jeopardy! to prep for the tournament. “I have a pretend buzzer that I play along with, and I watch Alex every night. You can’t press the button as soon as you know it,” he said. “You have to wait for Alex to finish reading the clue – and there is the briefest of beats, a guy flips a switch and [then] you can buzz in. If you buzz early, you actually get locked out for a fraction of a second. So you are just trying to get in a rhythm with Alex’s voice to find that exact second to buzz in. It’s like a zen thing – it’s like hitting a curve ball.”
He faces formidable opposition. Rutter has won $4,688,436 and Holzhauer $2,712,216 on the show.
“James and I actually met at Bumbershoot once when I was doing a trivia contest,” said Jennings. “He came up on stage for the final round, but he was still a young apprentice, he was buzzing too fast and he actually finished third. But he’s very funny on Twitter which I really admire. Winning two million on Jeopardy! is hard but being funny on Twitter may be harder, so I have a lot of respect for him.”
Rutter offers a different challenge.