At the end of Friday night’s episode, two contestants were tied with $18,800. In their fight to victory, they both wagered everything they had on the Final Jeopardy question: “Statues honoring this man who was killed in 1779 can be found in Waimea, Kauai & In Whitby, England.”
From his host lectern, Jennings watched it all unfold. He saw them jot down their daring wagers — each hoping to double their score to $37,600. And as the 30-second “Jeopardy!” theme song played, Jennings saw both contestants write down the correct response: Captain James Cook.
Once the theme song wrapped up, the responses were revealed to viewers at home. The game remained at a tie.
Jennings then announced that the game would enter a tiebreaker round — only the third one in the show’s regular-season history, according to The Ringer.
There would be one more clue. Whoever buzzed in first with the correct answer would be declared the winner.
Jennings read the tiebreaker aloud: “In October 1961, Stalin’s body was removed from display in this other man’s tomb.”
Brian Chang — who was the returning champ — buzzed in first and got it right: Vladimir Lenin.
Chang got to keep the $37,600 and became a four-day “Jeopardy!” champion. Contestant Jack Weller finished in second and went home with $2,000.
“Wow, that was some finish,” Jennings told the contestants after the game. “I’ve never seen one of those, and I’ve been here like 100 times.”
The tiebreaker is a fairly new addition to “Jeopardy!” according to The Ringer. The show used to allow co-champions, but over time, the number of ties began to increase — in 2014, two games that were filmed within hours of each other produced co-champions.
“Jeopardy!” officially announced a new tiebreaker system in 2016, although the rule was put in place immediately following those games in 2014, according to The Ringer.
The first tiebreaker in regular “Jeopardy!” game history happened in 2018, the second was in 2019 and the third on Friday night.
“Just my second day on the guest-hosting job ... and this happens,” Jennings tweeted. “We had the possibility of a super-rare Final Jeopardy tie or a super-DUPER-rare triple-zero finish.”
According to the “Jeopardy!” fan website, the rare scenario where all three players end up with $0 has happened four times in regular game history, and three times in special tournaments or celebrity games. The last time it happened was in 2016.