‘Jeopardy!’ star Ken Jennings apologizes for ‘insensitive’ tweets: ‘I screwed up’

Ken Jennings with his book "Because I Said So."
Ken Jennings, shown with his 2013 book “Because I Said So,” has issued an apology for “insensitive” tweets from his past.
(Mindy Jennings / Scribner)

Ken Jennings, tapped by some as the man most likely to take over for the late “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, is doing some end-of-year apologizing.

“Hey, I just wanted to own up to the fact that over the years on Twitter, I’ve definitely tweeted some unartful and insensitive things. Sometimes they worked as jokes in my head and I was dismayed to see how they read on screen,” the winningest “Jeopardy!” contestant ever tweeted Wednesday, kicking off a thread on the topic.

A few of his questionable tweets: “Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair,” posted in 2014, was seen as ableist and insulting. It led to wheelchair users on Twitter posting selfies and using hashtags including #DisabledAndCute and #HotPersonInAWheelchair.


Never shy about dipping into more contemporary trivia, “Jeopardy!” showed it knows memes as well with a reference to “OK, Boomer.”

Jan. 9, 2020

“It can’t be a good sign that every fan who has seen the new Star Wars movie died shortly thereafter,” posted in 2015, was seen as mocking a 32-year-old “Star Wars” fan whose last wish was to see “The Force Awakens” before he died of spindle cell sarcoma. J.J. Abrams allowed the fan to watch an unfinished version, and he died days later.

And posted in 2018, “This awful MAGA grandma is my favorite person on Twitter” was Jennings’ Twitter take on a woman mourning the death of her son, who loved the TV character Alf a whole lot.

But apparently now the trivia game’s GOAT is owning his past mistakes — in what commenters are suggesting might be part of his path toward eventually earning the permanent “Jeopardy!” host job.


“In the past, I’d usually leave bad tweets up just so they could be dunked on. At least that way they could lead to smart replies and even advocacy. Deleting them felt like whitewashing a mistake,” Jennings wrote. “But I think that practice may have given the impression I stand by every failed joke I’ve ever posted here. Not at all!”

He continued: “Sometimes I said dumb things in a dumb way and I want to apologize to people who were (rightfully!) offended. It wasn’t my intention to hurt anyone, but that doesn’t matter: I screwed up, and I’m truly sorry.

“If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we should be kinder to one another. I look forward to heading into 2021 with that in mind,” he concluded.

Jennings was named a consulting producer on the show in September, which meant he presented his own video categories, developed projects, assisted with contestant outreach and served as a general “Jeopardy!” ambassador.

After a long battle with pancreatic cancer, the celebrated game show host passed away at his home.

Nov. 8, 2020

When Trebek died from pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8, “Jeopardy!” was on a hiatus. The show resumed taping Nov. 30 with Jennings as the first in an as-yet-unknown series of “familiar” interim hosts, with a final decision on the permanent host to come in the future. Those episodes will start airing Monday, Jan. 11, after a week featuring Trebek’s final appearances.