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This Jeopardy! Host Dissed Fresno. Who is Ken Jennings?
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 4 years ago on
December 4, 2020

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Ken Jennings has an undisputed lore on Jeopardy! All-time winning streak, winner of many of the game show’s tournaments — and at least on an interim basis — the successor host to the late Alex Trebek.

But, Jennings may have run into hot water with fans from Fresno, ironic since the current champion is a Fresno State professor.

“The Grapes of Wrath is probably the only movie where the happy ending is a family moving to Fresno,” Jennings tweeted yesterday. In a follow-up tweet, Jennings said “Watching some John Ford in honor of Alex.”

Ford directed the 1940 move “The Grapes of Wrath.”

An image of Ken Jennings’ tweet about Fresno.

Reaction to his tweet has been mixed, with some defending the town and others piling on.

Nathan Ahle, president and CEO of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, said most Fresnans are too smart to take offense.

“We know what the many positives are of living and working here. We’ve seen these types of tweets from folks before, and this community is quick to rally when something is overly nasty or mean-spirited, and what Mr. Jennings said didn’t seem to rise to that level,” Ahle said. “If Mr. Jennings wants to take a trip to Fresno when the pandemic is behind us, we’ll show him what a great community we have here and then he can tell us what he thinks (in the form of a question, of course).”

GV Wire℠ reached out to Jeopardy!, Jennings and ABC 30 for comment, but did not receive one by time of publication.

The city of Fresno did respond, while at the same time congratulating Fresno State professor Fred Nelson’s victory.

“Maybe there’s a former champion who can learn a lesson in grace and humor from someone who found his happy ending in Fresno,” the tweet from the city’s account said.

Jennings Taking Over for Trebek

Long-time host Trebek died Nov. 8. He recorded programs through the end of October, with his final episode airing Jan. 7.

Jennings was named interim host, with production resuming this week. Those shows are expected to air starting Jan. 10.

He won 74 consecutive games in 2004, a record that remains today. He also set an American game show record with $2.52 million in cash winnings, a mark since broken.

With his game show fame, Jennings became a household name. He’s appeared in several Jeopardy! tournaments since, winning $1 million The Greatest of All Time tournament versus James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter earlier this year.

Jennings has taken heat before for prior tweets mocking the disabled, a late Star Wars fan, and Baron Trump, the son of President Donald Trump.

Fresno Professor is a Jeopardy! Champion

On the episode that aired Thursday on ABC 30 and around the nation, Fresno State science education professor Fred Nelson won $20,001 and the right to come back on Friday.

Nelson was neck-and-neck with returning champion Leslie Minot, entering Final Jeopardy! with just a $200 lead.

He was the only contestant to come up with the correct response to the final answer:

“In 1858 these 2 men faced each other in Alton, Freeport, Galesburg & 4 other nearby towns.”

“Who are Lincoln + Douglas?” as in Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas and their precedent setting debates that have become the model for political dialogue.

Nelson was introduced as “A university professor, originally from Manhattan, Kansas” and did not mention his Fresno State affiliation during the show. During his contestant interview with Trebek, Nelson joked that he’s been fired from every job he’s had except for teaching.

Fresno State professor Fred Nelson won $20,001 on Thursday’s Jeopardy! (Image: screenshot/Jeopardy!)

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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