'Jeopardy!' Champ Ryan Bilger Has a Message for His Haters

Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions finalist Ryan Bilger is speaking out after the first night of the 2021 competition saw viewers blasting his "arrogant" behavior. Bilger, who earned more than $100,000 over four games in 2019 and is now a finalist in the 2021 tournament, sparked plenty of discussion online after he was seen beating his chest and saying he was "gonna go for the kill" as he wagered $6,000 on a Daily Double. Now, the Macungie, Pennsylvania is slyly apologizing if he "ruined" the game show for viewers.

In a multi-tweet thread late Monday night posted after Jeopardy! viewers blasted him, with one person saying they would "rather get a cavity filled than watch Ryan Bilger on [Jeopardy!]" and another tweeting that "his smug attitude turned me off to the tournament," Bilger noted that there were "a lot of people out there who are displeased with me," something he said he understood. Addressing his behavior, Bilger explained that he "had a ton of adrenaline flowing through my veins" and he "got loud and excited" when he "got a daily double on a piece of Pennsylvania history I've known since I was a child. I was playing better than I ever expected."

"I get that that's not what many people want out of Jeopardy. I'd take back the comment on the second DD if I could. I was just in the moment and so excited to play because I'd been waiting for it for 2 years and had lots of pent-up energy. Not saying it's a valid excuse," Bilger continued, adding that he has since spoken with Monday-night rivals Jason Zuffranieri and Sarah Jett Rayburn, who have "been very clear that they have no problems with me, that we were competitors in a competitive space and that getting excitable is understandable, that I have nothing to apologize to them for. So that's that with them."

Bilger ended the note with a message to viewers who may have been rubbed the wrong way by his behavior, writing, "sorry that I ruined your Jeopardy watching night. I get it." He asked that those who "want to make imputations about my character" do it "to my face." Bilger added, "I know who I am and this TOC field is an amazing group of people and I'm honored to be a part of it" and said he would see Jeopardy! viewers "next week through the TV, whether you like me or hate me."

Amid the controversy, Bilger has received plenty of support from others on the game show. In fact, after the official Jeopardy! account saw an influx of negative comments directed their way Monday night, it sent out a tweet reading, "While we welcome a lively exchange with our fans, please keep the level of conversation respectful and appropriate."

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In her own tweet, Rayburn noted that she "was standing right next to" Bilger as he thumped his chest "and saw in him the intense love of this game that we all share. He's a fierce competitor and a kind, genuine human being." Zuffranieri also addressed the controversy, sharing in a tweet, "if you come for any of us you come for all of us. Dude's a great player and a great guy."