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7 Most Memorable "Jeopardy!" Blunders Ever

Ken Jennings and more.

Jeopardy! gets plenty of attention for the almost supernatural intelligence of its contestants. And … the opposite. Perhaps because players have such a mastery of obscure topics and lightning-fast gameplay, the occasional blunders, massive strategic errors, and wildly comic or borderline obscene answers really tend to stand out. These are seven of the most memorable blunders in the game show's history.

Ken Jennings and the Hoe


Ken Jennings became perhaps the most famous Jeopardy! champion of all time, to the point that he was named co-host alongside Mayim Bialik in 2021. But even Jennings managed to put his foot in his mouth—or somewhere—to the delight of the studio audience. The year was 2004, during Jennings's original championship run. The category was "Tool Time." The clue: "This term for a long-handled gardening tool can also mean an immoral pleasure seeker." Jennings's answer: "What is a hoe?" As the audience cracked up, host Alex Trebek cracked: "Whoa, whoa, whoa! They teach you that in school in Utah, huh?" (The correct answer: "What is a rake?")

The Teen Tournament Wipe-Out


In the semi-final round of Jeopardy!'s February 2013 Teen Tournament, all three contestants bet everything they had in Final Jeopardy! The subject: "Capital Cities." The clue: "It's criss-crossed  by dozens of 'peace walls' that separate its Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods." All three contestants answered "Dublin." Unfortunately, the correct answer was "Belfast." All three prodigies saw their scores zapped to zero, leaving Trebek to state that no one would move on to the finals—the first time that had ever happened in a tournament.

Gary and the Romans


In this late-'80s blunder, a contestant named Gary rang in to answer this clue: "By the 4th century AD, Rome had 28 public ones stacked with rolls of papyrus." His guess: "Public toilets." Nope. Over the audience's fading laughter, the next contestant scored the correct answer: Libraries.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Defeats Himself, With Himself


In 2009, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became perhaps the first Jeopardy! contestant to offer himself as an incorrect answer. The clue: "Tell your old man to drag this '70s UCLA and Trail Blazer center (and Lanier!) up and down the court for 48 minutes." Abdul-Jabbar buzzed in to guess, "Who is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?" The basketball legend delivered the line in the classic 1980 comedy movie Airplane!, but the correct answer was the subject of the quote: Bill Walton. (You'd think Abdul-Jabbar would remember he received his history degree and left UCLA's team in 1969.)

Tom Imler and the Age of Consent


In 2015, contestant Tom Imler had the global Jeopardy! fanbase face-palming when he buzzed in to answer this clue: "In common law, the age of this, signaling adulthood, is presumed to be 14 in boys and 12 in girls." Imler's guess: "The age of consent." Um, no. The correct answer was "puberty." Social media instantly declared his gaffe one of the most awkward Jeopardy! moments ever. Imler defended himself to the New York Daily News, saying he wasn't creepy. "It's 127,000 percent untrue. But when it started to snowball, I started to worry that people might think it was true. I started to think, 'Holy cow. What if one day I come home from work and there's a cop waiting outside my door?'"

Ken Gives Away the Answer


Ken Jennings had been alternating host for more than a year when he managed to botch the job entirely in November 2022. After a contestant correctly answered a clue in the category "Number, Please," Jennings offered a bit of commentary: "I don't know if you noticed, but the numbers in that category—40, 23, 38, and 74, which is larger than all of them…oh sh*t!" The problem: One clue still remained on the board. A contestant named Matt started ringing in instantly and ultimately gave the last correct answer: 40.

"Groups, Six"


In 2004, a contestant named Kara rang in to answer this clue: "If Andy yearns for Brenda, and Brenda cares about Charlene who pines for Andy, the three of them form one of these." Her guess: "What is a threesome?" (The correct answer: "What is a love triangle?") After the audience's tittering died down, Trebek faced the camera and deadpanned, "Kara has obviously had much more experience than I." YouTube commenters declare the moment a classic. "Definitely one of the funniest answers in this show ever," one said, while another offered, "Trebek is ruthless."


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