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I'll Bet $5, Alex (Version 2.0)
Travis Eberle

Statistics allow for the clustering of events. You can flip a coin ten times, and they might all come up heads. Contrary tot he old wives' tale, lightning frequently strikes twice in the same place. "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" has had two jackpot winners in a single calendar week. That's all well and good, but most people didn't think that the 75-win streak of Ken Jennings would be under attack. It's still not, but there's one young champion who has been making a helluva run at it.

At this point, David Madden, a student from New Jersey living abroad, has won 11 games and nearly $270,000. I applaud him in his victories. I love that he's a student of the game: depriving his opponents of Daily Doubles, and betting appropriately. He signals only when he knows: his questions right divided by questions attempted ratio has never been below .85 thus far. David has earned his place alongside the other Jeopardy greats.

So, I raise my soda to you David; may your reign be long, glorious, and overflowing with money.

Now that the good parts are out of the way, let's deal with the thorns in my rear. First, in the first week of David's championship run, Alex Trebek made a reference to "The next Ken Jennings?" Sure, the guy is winning big and locking out the opposition, but it's insulting to both Ken and David. I know "Jeopardy" runs second to "Wheel of Fortune," but c'mon, give us some credit. The ratings can't be that bad, can they? Shame on you, Alex, for being a tool for Sony. You were just starting to regain my respect. Let Ken gracefully yield the spotlight. He's had his fun; more so than any other champion in history. Previous champions won their five games then got their shot at greatness in May. For Pete's sake, he's already got a board game and another game show lined up.

Secondly, I doubt the producers were ready for someone to win more than 10 games so quickly after the Big Horking Tournament was over. After having the Ultimate Tournament of Champions, what's left? "Masters of the Jeopardy Universe"? "Celebrities Versus Champions"? "So You Think You Can Beat Ken Again"? The suits kinda boxed themselves in figuring that no one would come close to Ken. I don't blame them for jumping on the bandwagon, but the moniker of "Ultimate" was a bit premature. Maybe "Penultimate" would have been less presumptuous?

I figured that next years' Tournament would consist of Ken, the College Champion and a cardboard cutout, but this could be quite a contest. Both champions showed that they could steamroll over willing doormats, but when the chips are down...

Travis Eberle saw former Jeopardy champion Arthur Phillips' book "The Egyptologist" in a bookstore on vacation, but didn't pick it up. Harass him mercilessly at traviseberle@gmail.com

 

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