Ken Jennings has only served as the guest host on Jeopardy! for two weeks,but he has already seen something that not many longtime fans had ever seen. In fact, Jennings himself was never a part of something as crazy as Friday’s episode during, despite his historical 74-game win streak as a contestant. Going into the Final Jeopardy round, two contestants, Jack Weller and defending champion Brian Chang, the two players each had $18,800 apiece. The same score is certainly a rare sight but not as infrequent as what happened next.
Jennings read off the question asking for the name of the man who is honored with statues in Waimea, Kauai, and in Whitby, England, after his death in 1779. The two men both got it right and both wagered the same exact total: all $18,800. That meant the two had to go to an overtime, which Jeopardy! viewers would find out was a winner-take-all question where the first person to buzz in gets the first guess. Chang buzzed in with “Lenin” before Weller to extend his streak to four games in a row as Jennings congratulated him and Weller on a “fantastic game” after the round. This moment was the first time a tie-breaker ever needed to happen since Mar. 1, 2018.
What an ending! Here's what happens when two contestants are tied after Final Jeopardy! pic.twitter.com/wwTtGkkl00— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) January 23, 2021
Over on Twitter, Chang shared some behind-the-scenes details as he recalled the nerve-wracking moments in between the Final Jeopardy round and the tie-breaker. He said he and Weller had to wait around 20 minutes in between as producers scrambled to come up with the tiebreaker question and explain the rules to the two remaining players. Before 2016, Chang said any two contestants who were tied after the final round would return the next day, but these rules changed in 2016. Chang wrote on Twitter that he was “incredibly anxious” during the gap between the last two questions. Weller congratulated his counterpart on Twitter, as well, saying he was “grateful” to compete alongside him.
Jennings, too, was very excited to be a part of history. The scene that unfolded took place on just his second day as guest host, with the show filming multiple episodes each day. “Just my second day on the guest-hosting job and this happens,” Jennings wrote on Twitter. “We had the rare possibility of a super rare Final Jeopardy tie or a super-DUPER-rare-triple-zero finish.”