Just a few years after making headlines for an offensive tweet aimed at wheelchair-bound people, Jeopardy! host Ken Jennings made another joke in a similar vein on Thursday, and again turned some heads.
After being named interim host in the wake of Alex Trebek’s passing back in 2020, Jennings was called out by various people for past tweets that many deemed offensive. During Thursday’s Champions Wildcard episode, Jennings made a joke about assisted living folks and drew plenty of reaction once more from viewers on social media.
Here’s a look at how the moment unfolded.
During the interview portion with Jen Jazwinski, a youth services librarian from Algonquin, Illinois, she had an anecdote about one of her previous times on the show and being able to discuss the influence her grandmothers have had on her.
“When I did that, her entire home where she lives was watching, and they stood and gave her a standing ovation during that part of the show,” Jazwinski told Jennings. “So that was a really special moment for her and for me.”
That’s when Jennings decided to retort.
“That’s great. And that means a lot in assisted living. Standing up: not easy… for all those people,” Jennings said, receiving laughter from the crowd and contestants before adding, “I would assume.”
The game went on with Jazwinski winning and advancing in the semifinals of the current Champions Wildcard tournament.
Ken Jennings made another wheelchair joke on jeopardy tonight lol
— Larry NASCAR (@MrBlockedOff) November 10, 2023
— Julie London Ferguson (@DearBubbie) November 10, 2023
— TRAPPED IN A RED STATE (@MarionClare04) November 10, 2023
@KenJennings disses the elderly tonight 11/09/23 when responding to Jen who said her grandma’s home residents stood up and clapped at her winning. He said they’re so old hard to stand up. He should apologize. @Jeopardy He promotes himself as a good Mormon NOT
— Carl Richards (@candlepincarl) November 10, 2023
11/09. Jeopardy contestant Jen Jazwinski told an anecdote about her grandmother being given a standing ovation at her assisted living home when her episode aired. « Standing up, not easy for all those people », was Ken’s cringe-worthy reply. #KenJennings #jeopardy #cringe 😬 pic.twitter.com/yG8JzWOrhj
— Le « Manitoba » ne répond plus. (@Bookkollektor) November 10, 2023
One of the tweets that Jennings took the most flack for came in 2014 when he wrote, “Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair.” Before the big resurfacing in 2020, he was called out for that tweet back in 2018 and tweeted this as his response:
“I never did a public flogging thing for this but I did apologize personally to angry/hurt people who reached out personally. it was a joke so inept that it meant something very different in my head & I regret the ableist plain reading of it!”
Among those who called him out after getting the hosting gig in 2020 was actress Yvette Nicole Brown. It wasn’t until the tail end of 2020 that Jennings officially publicly apologized with a series of tweets.
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. 1/x
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) December 30, 2020
No response yet on this latest comment from Jennings, who is serving as Jeopardy! host for the foreseeable future after co-host Mayim Bialik left the show amidst the strikes in Hollywood earlier this year.
Jeopardy! airs weeknights, check your local listings.
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