‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Weighs In on Show Change


The popular game show Jeopardy! might be getting more contestant applications now that it has raised the potential winnings for contestants.

Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions winner Sam Kavanaugh has shared his excitement over recent show updates, with the increase in consolation prize money for second- and third-place winners from this season onwards.

Kavanaugh’s comments came after the long-running show was called out by some fans when they realized that participants had to pay their travel and accommodations costs to appear on the show.

Showrunner Michael Davies previously announced on the Inside Jeopardy! podcast that the show would be “increasing the second and third place prize amounts by a thousand [dollars] each.”

On the August 7 episode of the podcast, hosts Davies and Sarah Whitcomb Foss, who is producer on Jeopardy! discussed plans for season 40 against current strikes in Hollywood, which included the increase of prize money for second and third place and to “invite back and give a second chance to” contestants from seasons 37 and 38.

Davies said he believed it would “not be fair for new contestants” to appear on the show and not have the full experience and a mixture of original and non-original material, as the show’s writers are currently on strike.

The strikes have not impacted Jeopardy! going ahead with its new season, as the show’s questions were written before the Writers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild strikes. However, this does mean that no new content can be written for the show, and celebrity co-host Mayim Bialik stepped away from the show in solidarity with striking writers, leaving Ken Jennings to host the show solo.

Kavanaugh took to social media this week to share his thoughts on the changes and to encourage people to apply for the show.

He said:Jeopardy! raising their consolation prizes is huge. $1,000 for coming in 3rd used to be a losing proposition after taxes, hotels, & flights. Along with the anytime test, this allows a wider range of contestants to compete *and* to fully focus on what they’re there for: winning.”

He also spoke about how accessible the show’s Anytime Tests were as an online entry point for anyone who wanted to compete on Jeopardy! and how online Zoom castings had also allowed for less travel.

Kavanaugh added: “Anytime Test AND Zoom auditions. It seems like there have never been so few barriers to get on the show, and the audience will benefit as a result.”

On the podcast, Davies said: “So the third place prize will move up to $2,000. The second place prize will move up to $3,000.”

These changes were implemented for this season, starting September 11.

One former contestant spoke out about the positive news: “Agree! I lost money appearing on J! as a student and it definitely stressed me out, glad to see they’re raising the cash prizes!”

Kavanaugh’s argument did not convince some fans of the show.

On X, formerly Twitter, one user said: “Fewer barriers means more applicants, which means it’s harder to get on the show.”

Scott Handelman, who took part on Jeopardy! late in 2022, said at the time: “The news today that not only is Jeopardy bringing back S37-38 players AND raising the prizes for 2nd and 3rd place provides me little consolation.”

“Jeopardy!” game show host Ken Jennings in Pasadena, California. “Jeopardy!” champ Sam Kavanaugh welcomed the increases in consolation prize money on the show.
Valerie Macon//Getty Images


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