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Game Show Contestants Have Feelings, Too
Gordon Pepper

For the past month in Jeopardy!, we've seen something that we almost never see in Jeopardy! - emotion. The last (and for most people, only) real emotional display on the show was on the fateful day of November 30, 2004, when all Nancy Zerg could do is cup her hands to her face as Ken Jennings was dethroned.

The past month, however, have been ripe full of emotion. From the famous Paul Gutowski scream 2 weeks ago to Bob Harris's heartfelt rant on Tuesday's show, you've never seen as much emotion or passion in Jeopardy than you have seen for this tournament.

There could be just as much emotion, however, from the sidelines. On Wednesday's show, Mark Eckard gets blown out in Double Jeopardy! and eventually loses to winner Brian Moore (no, not our recapper Brian Moore), by a score of $25,200 to $100.

Moore was up $37,600 to $11,400 at the end of Double Jeopardy and that was all she wrote. The emotion, however, may not be from Eckard, but from the person who has lost to him - Jason Block.

Let me explain. Jason Block, as we all know, is a four-time champion in Jeopardy!. He lost on his fifth day because he screwed up the Final Jeopardy! answer. This we all know. What may we all not know?

The person that he lost to was Mark Eckard.

We all know that if Jason won, he would have been retired as a five-time champion. We also know that if he won, he would have been going to that year's Tournament of Champions as an undefeated seed. Actually, Mark would have been going too, because if Jason got the question right, him and Mark would have been co-champs, and Mark would have gone on the five-day tear anyway. What we didn't know then (though we do now) is that if he won, he also would have gotten invited to the Ultimate Tournament that's going on right now.

So you could say that the seat that Mark Eckard is sitting in could have easily belonged to Jason, and it could be him that we are seeing. The $15,000-plus that Eckard is walking away with could also have belonged to Jason - or even more if Jason continued on where Mark didn't.

Now don't feel too badly for Jason. He's doing quite well, including destroying people left and right on his Beat The Block show on 95.5 WPLJ in NYC. He is also one of the most gracious people that I have ever met, and I don't think he would ever badmouth anyone in the industry - and certainly not Eckard. But you have to think that while Mr. Block saw Mr. Eckard go down in flames that he was experiencing some sort of satisfaction.

Someone will be experiencing satisfaction in the next few months as we get closer to a $2 million winner, and we'll probably be seeing a lot more emotion on the journey, whether it's from the contestants, or the people around them... on both sides of the coin.

Gordon Pepper can be reached at

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