James Holzhauer Dominated Night One Of Jeopardy Masters, And Sent A Message To Host Ken Jennings In Final Jeopardy

Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer in Jeopardy! Masters
(Image credit: ABC)

The Jeopardy! Masters tournament is underway and, once again, one of Jeopardy!'s biggest winners is on a tear again. James Holzhauer reminded viewers why he's still one of the biggest names in the game by delivering an absolutely dominating performance, but he didn't stop there. In what may have been the ultimate flex, he sent a message to host Ken Jennings in the Final Jeopardy segment. 

On the first night of Masters, James Holzhauer won his game and bested fellow notable contestants Sam Buttrey and Mattea Roach. Holzhauer's strategy of winning big by finding all Daily Doubles and doubling his score paid off in the game. Ultimately, it became mathematically impossible for Buttrey and Roach to outscore his 40,800 in the Final category. It was classic Holzhauer and a performance that those with a Hulu subscription should go check out if they missed it.  

With the lead secured, the professional sports gambler-turned-game show phenom decided he'd take an opportunity to troll Ken Jennings in the best possible way -- by calling him out in his answer. You can see exactly what he did by taking a look at the image below: 

James Holzhauer in Jeopardy! Masters

(Image credit: ABC)

James Holzhauer's response, "Stop ducking a rematch, Ken," along with his quip that writing "ducking" was an autocorrect mistake, elicited a laugh from Ken Jennings himself. It seems that Holzhauer is hunting for a rematch with the "GOAT" of Jeopardy after Jennings  "got some breaks" and bested Holzhauer and Brad Rutter back in 2020. Jennings prepared for Holzhauer ahead of that GOAT tournament by watching the program and fine-tuning his buzzer timing. In doing so, he also employed the cadence of the late Alex Trebek. 

As far as whether or not they'll ever square off again, Ken Jennings played off the comment as best he could. The part-time host of Jeopardy! teased his former opponent that he actually acquired the gig so that he wouldn't have to face him again:

You know how much work I had to go to to get all the way over at this lectern and avoid having to play you again, James?

It actually is established in the Jeopardy! rules that Ken Jennings cannot play the game again due to his hosting duties. Rules are meant to be broken, though, and executive producer Michael Davies previously hinted that if Jennings really wanted to return to play, the show might allow it. So could the trash talker get producers talking about a rematch between them if he wins the Masters tournament? 

James Holzhauer will have to win first, and after the initial night, he was technically in second place. Andrew He beat Amy Schneider and Matt Amodio in the debut game of the night and was awarded three points -- the same as Holzhauer after his victory. Ken Jennings explained, however, that because He had more correct answers than Holzhauer, he was technically the first-place holder after the first episode. Holzhauer and He will square off against each other on the second night, which will provide more substantial footing for the leader. 

As entertaining as Jeopardy! Masters is, the quest to crown the best of the best does feel a bit hollow without Ken Jennings in the mix. Sure, having him as host is a great perk, and there's no denying he already solidified himself as the GOAT years ago. Of course, fans surely still want to see if he can beat James Holzhauer again and as a result, determine whether his claim as the best is waning.

Continue to follow the contestants in the Jeopardy! Masters tournament on ABC. The competition will continue over the course of three weeks and air weeknights at 8:00 p.m. ET, with some gaps in days here and there. I can't wait to see who wins and whether another challenge is issued to Ken Jennings.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.