What is an epic showdown?
Jeopardy! viewers will get the answer to that question and more as the show continues its highly anticipated “Greatest of All Time” tournament Tuesday on 6ABC starting at 8 p.m.
The first-of-its-kind tournament, hosted by Alex Trebek, has been a trivia-fueled battle royal featuring the most successful three contestants in the show’s history: All-time wins champion Ken Jennings; top earnings winner and Lancaster native Brad Rutter; and professional gambler James Holzhauer, whose 32-game winning streak last year garnered the show’s highest TV ratings in four years.
So far, Jennings has taken home two games, while Holzhauer has won one. Rutter don’t have any wins, and has finished a distant third each night. The tournament has garnered monster ratings, averaging close to 15 million viewers a night in same-day ratings across its first three nights. That’s 3 million more viewers than any other non-sports shows this season, and more than all but one of ESPN’s 17 Monday Night Football telecasts.
It’s hard not to think of this Jeopardy! tournament as a possible cap to Trebek’s career, considering the longtime host is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. During a recent interview on Good Morning America, Trebek revealed he’s begun to practice what he will say when it comes time to say goodbye to the show he’s hosted for 36 years. But until his skills diminish, he’s still working, and says he’s been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support he’s received.
“People all over America and abroad have decided they want to let me know now, while I’m alive, about the impact that I’ve been having on their existence,” Trebek said on GMA in late December. “They have come out and they have told me, and my gosh, it makes me feel so good."
The rules for Jeopardy!’s “Greatest of All Time” are unlike any previous tournaments, so here’s everything you need to know ahead of the epic competition:
Each night, the tournament will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern and run a full hour, consisting of two back-to-back 30-minute shows. The contestant with the highest cumulative total at the end of the evening will win the “match.”
The first contestant to win three matches will be named the show’s “Greatest of All Time,” hence the title. The tournament could end Tuesday night if Jennings wins his third match, but if either Holzhauer or Rutter win, the even could extend all the way until Friday, Jan. 17.
The winner of the tournament will walk away with $1 million, while the two other contestants will each take home $250,000. Not a bad paycheck for what could amount to a few days work (taping for the tournament began Dec. 10 and lasted just a couple of days, according to ESPN).
Regardless who wins, Rutter has such a massive lead in terms of overall cash winnings (nearly $1.32 million more than Jennings going into the tournament) that he will remain Jeopardy!'s all-time earnings champ no matter what.