Commentary

Drama Of 'Jeopardy' Champion Dethroning Ruined By Spoiler

It was an exciting show, and the one “Jeopardy!” fans have been tuning in to see -- and hopefully be a part of -- ever since James Holzhauer's amazing winning streak began to take shape in April.

However, unfortunately for many, news items ricocheted and multiplied across the Internet starting on Sunday that someone had leaked video footage of the conclusion of Monday's show, revealing far in advance of its airing that Holzhauer would be dethroned.

The stories contained various details that were so specific that they left little doubt the stories were true. As a result, if you read the stories, then you knew the outcome of Monday night's show.

It was possible, if not entirely logical, to doubt the veracity of the stories and hope for an outcome that would play differently, with at least some surprises. But no -- the ending happened exactly as the stories said it would, right down to the name of the new champion -- Emma Boettcher, a library professional from Chicago (pictured above, along with Holzhauer and host Alex Trebek).

One could argue that the news organizations that posted the stories based on this small piece of video were culpable in this process of suspense spoilage that undermined what should have been a stellar night of fun TV.

But in the world of news, the thinking usually goes like this: If we don't publish this story, someone else will, and then we will feel as if we passed on -- and were consequently beaten on -- a great story.

That line of thinking is not necessarily excusable, but this is what news organizations do. The blame for this leak -- if this is what it was -- belongs squarely with the person or persons who felt it was appropriate to disseminate this video with no regard for how anyone else might feel about it.

But this is the culture we have wrought. Cloaked in the anonymity the Internet offers, it is possible to post anything anywhere with almost no chance of being discovered.

Yesterday, no news could be found online about the identity of the leaker or even whether Sony Pictures Television, producer of “Jeopardy!,” had embarked on a full-on search for the perpetrator, especially if the video could be identified as having come from within the show’s production staff.

Or maybe someone in the show's studio audience surreptitiously recorded the show on a cell phone -- although this would seem to be nearly impossible given the small size of this show's audience. Such a person would almost certainly have been seen and caught in the act of recording.

As for the show itself, this new champion is to be congratulated for dethroning a champion who seemed invincible. It is true that Holzhauer's loss was due in part to a deviation from his usual strategy -- betting less than what he would normally wager in a “Final Jeopardy” round, and as a result, falling short of a victory when he and the new champion both had the correct answer.

It is also true that he trailed this new contender going into the final round, which was rare indeed for him. As a professional gambler, he possibly already knew that if she had the correct answer, and wagered accordingly, there was no way he would beat her, no matter what he wagered.

And so, the James Holzhauer era on “Jeopardy!” has come to an end. By December, when some of us are compiling our lists of the year's top stories in television, “Jeopardy!” will surely be there.

5 comments about "Drama Of 'Jeopardy' Champion Dethroning Ruined By Spoiler".
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  1. Steve Beverly from Union Broadcasting System, June 5, 2019 at 1:39 p.m.

    Adam, here's the deal.....a cell phone video would never have been that still and clean and feature all the graphics with the scoring totals, as well as the camera changes.

    Aside from the legal issue of copyrighted video, the only real way something like this could be stopped is if the show was live, which is not going to happen.

    "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," at its peak, considered going live but the producers determined they'd have to fly all of the phone-a-friends (5) to New York and sequester them in a hotel.  Too complex.

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, June 5, 2019 at 1:52 p.m.

    It was a good episode anyway, spoiler or not. And the ratings bump for that last show was huge. Maybe the folks at Sony should give the leaker a raise. (Nah.)

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, June 5, 2019 at 6:56 p.m.

    The ability to release the episode (or any for that matter) gave someone quite a sense of self importance. 

  4. Benjamin Glatt from Jumpshot, June 6, 2019 at 10:56 a.m.

    The video was clearly leaked from production staff. One of the producers spoke with the NY Post and said that they are nearly certain whom the culprit was, and will be taking appropriate action against that person. 

    As for his betting, he actually bet the exact amount he should have. He knew that she would bet enough to be $1 more than him if he were to bet all of his money. Thus there was no reason for him to bet it all, so he bet just enough to be $1 over the other person if he were to bet it all, and ensured himself the win if Emma got the question wrong. 

  5. Suzanne Sell from Independent, June 6, 2019 at 12:08 p.m.

    Steve and Benjamin, you’re so right. Even the best bettor will eventually lose. And the leaker also gambled and lost? The winners here are the advertisers, stations, and Sony. I haven’t seen the ratings, but I’d bet they rose during this marathon and weren’t negatively affected by the leak.

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