Some consider the greatest gauge of intellect in North America to be achieving success on the popular quiz game show Jeopardy!
On January 7, 2020, a special prime-time edition of the intelligence-barometer program will be broadcast on ABC, featuring its most famous champions James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter to see which contestant will be crowned “The Greatest Of All Time.”
Of course, fans and, most importantly, bettors will be tuning in because much like Jeopardy, online sports betting has become an institution in the United States.
Online sportsbook Sportsbook wasted no time posting betting odds on which former champion will be deemed the smartest, with both Holzhauer and Rutter currently as +140 co-favorites and Jennings the slight underdog at +180.
These odds moved quickly within the first day of being posted as they opened with Holzhauer as the fave at +110, Jennings at +115 and Rutter at +280, which seemed absurd at the time considering Rutter is undefeated on Jeopardy in his game-show career (more on that below).
Longtime host Alex Trebek will moderate this ultimate competition as he continues his battle with pancreatic cancer. Trebek has hosted the show since it went into daily syndication in 1975.
Here’s a brief profile on each contestant going into the showdown to be crowned “The Greatest Of All Time”:
James Holzhauer +140
The most recent long-term champion, with a 32-game winning streak in 2019, James Holzhauer is the third-highest earner in Jeopardy’s history and used elements of sports betting to maximize profit.
Since the point of the game is to finish with the largest amount of money at the conclusion of Final Jeopardy, Holzhauer would typically pick the highest-value clues earlier to maximize earnings. This would assist him in increasing his bankroll significantly so he could wager even more money when he eventually hit Daily Doubles or Final Jeopardy.
This strategy isn’t necessarily new as past contestants have done it too but none had the efficiency of Holzhauer, who became a household name overnight. By using these tactics, Holzhauer routinely smashed single-game Jeopardy records for winnings and holds the single-game record with $131,127 earned.
Brad Rutter +140
The highest-earning contestant ever on Jeopardy and someone who can claim he’s never lost to a human, Brad Rutter was initially tabbed as a huge underdog at +280 but his odds moved to +140 as co-favorite within hours of the betting prop being released.
Rutter first appeared on Jeopardy in 2000 but back then, you could only play for five consecutive days before retiring undefeated and then being invited back to participate in the Tournament of Champions. Well, Rutter went on to win that tourney in 2001 while also taking the top prize in the Million Dollar Masters Tournament in 2002.
His Jeopardy resume is astonishing as he’s won every tournament or competition he’s ever played in except for one: when he and Ken Jennings faced IBM computer “Watson” for a special edition of the game show. Both he and Jennings were outmatched and lost handily.
The odds may have shrunk by now for Rutter but if bettors are looking for an edge, he has beaten Jennings in head-to-head battles and has yet to lose in the standard form of the game show.
Ken Jennings +180
Likely the most popular of the three contestants, Ken Jennings is a former software engineer and holds the Jeopardy record for consecutive wins with 74 in 2004. He also has the distinction of the highest-average correct responses per game at 35.9 and at 33.1 for tournaments and special events.
He is the second-highest earner in the game show’s history behind Rutter and finished ahead of him when they faced off vs the IBM computer program Watson on a special edition of Jeopardy.
He translated this success into becoming a household name with media appearances and other game shows like 1 vs 100, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader and 500 Questions.
Bettors may end up backing Jennings solely on the track record of his consecutive-win streak and his correct response average. As a +180 underdog, he holds great value for this betting prop considering he opened as a +115 co-favorite.
Odds as of November 19 at Sportsbook