'Jeopardy!' Fans Call out Contestant's Contentious Response to Losing

As Jeopardy!'s Tournament of Champions heads into the finals, one contestant's reaction to their recent loss in the competition is earning plenty of backlash from fans. During night 2 of the semi-finals, social media lit up with criticism of contestant Ryan Bilger's reaction when his fellow contestant, Veronica Vichit-Vadanka, ultimately made it through to the finals.

The controversial moment came during the Final Jeopardy question. In the category about ""Nobel-winning Authors," the clue read, "Falsely accused of murder, a character in his 1948 novel becomes 'tyrant over the whole county's White conscience.'" Both Bilger and Vichit-Vadanka correctly answered "Faulkner," though Bilger's $2,402 wager wasn't enough to solidify his spot in the finals. After Bilger's winnings were brought up to $16,002, it was revealed that Vichit-Vadanka wagered $15,400 on her answer, bringing her total to $31,400. As she was announced a finally in the tournament and the camera panned out, Bilger, who earned more than $100,000 over four games in 2019, could be seen weakly clapping as he looked down.

For many fans, Bilger's reaction was that of a sore loser, and many took to social media to call him out, with one person tweeting that Bilger "came across like a jerk, again." Another person said his reaction "clearly showed the immaturity level he has. I can't imagine the gloating level he would have had if he had won." A third person said Bilger's "lack of graciousness in defeat was astounding. Glad to see him go,' with another Jeopardy! viewer writing that they were "so happy" Bilger didn't win. That same person added, "what a sore loser and an overall jerk. He didn't even look at the winner and just hung his head the whole time. Who's going to tell him that the world doesn't revolve around him?"

At this time, Bilger hasn't directly addressed the backlash, though he did send a congratulatory message to Vichit-Vadanka. In a tweet following the episode, he wrote, "Veronica played a brilliant game and is an amazing human to boot! Big congratulations to her on the win, and make sure to tune in Thursday and Friday to watch her again in the finals!"

After having first appeared on Jeopardy! back in 2019, Bilger returned to the stage for the 2021 Tournament of Champions, guest hosted by Buzzy Cohen. His stint on the tournament has largely been mired in controversy, though, with viewers having called out his "arrogant" behavior on the first night of the competition. Following that backlash, Bilger issued an apology, explaining that he "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."