Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jeopardy ‘Geniuses’

Ah, Jeopardy! The classic game show hosted by Alex Trebek. It’s a trivia showdown between some pretty bright minds with wit and intelligence built into many of the questions asked. Some topics include the most obscure historic literary snippet you’ve ever heard to the name of a character on the Suite Life of Zach and Cody. Despite some of the more pop-culture knowledge displayed, to be a contestant, you have to know your stuff. Just to get on the show you have to pass a series of trials, and to win the game, you have to be smart and you have to be fast.

With that said, it boggles me that when a player does so well during the course of the game that they have a guaranteed win, they still manage to blow it. We’re talking simple math and a ‘sure thing’ bet gone horribly wrong. I’ll break it down into simple, fairly realistic numbers. Say player A – in first place - has won $15,000 up through the end of round 2, and player B – in second place – has won $5,000. This is a can’t lose situation for player A going into the Final Jeopardy question. The most player B can bet on the final question is the sum of their current winnings, or $5,000, which means the most they can end up with assuming a correct answer is $10,000, which is still 5K below player A.

Here’s the twist, if player A bets $4,999 or less, regardless of their confidence about the topic at hand, they CAN NOT LOSE. Yet somehow, of all the times I’ve seen this scenario unfold, a large portion of contestants who fit into the player A category bet more than that maximum. Of those, a large portion gets the answer wrong and ends up losing. If you’re that smart to kick so much ass the whole game, then how do you get to be so stupid as to blow a sure thing? UGH.


  1. It's called arrogance mixed with greed, pure and simple, and it's part of the personality traits they screen for when selecting contestants. Contestant A gets to return to play again if he wins, but it's not good enough he takes that sure thing with the bonus of trying again - the risk of losing everything doesn't outweigh their need for the instant maximizing of cash.

    Remember that guy on Millionaire who used his "phone a friend" to call someone just to brag about how he was about to win a million? A person with humility wouldn't have done that... if a person with humility could even get in the hot seat.

  2. I agree. You can be a know-it-all but once you start to let arrogance in you ARE gonna trip over yourself. The addition of greed will make it happen that much more faster.


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