Why This “Jeopardy!” Champ Thinks the Show Is “Not Good”

Yogesh Raut has faced backlash for his comments about the game show

Yogesh Raut on "Jeopardy!"
Yogesh Raut on "Jeopardy!"

In recent years, Jeopardy! has been no stranger to controversy. But this time around, it’s not ousted executive producer Mike Richards or current host Mayim Bialik bringing some drama to the long-running game show — it’s a winning contestant who took to social media this week to explain why the show is “not good” for the quizzing community.

Yogesh Raut won $96,403 over the course of three episodes of Jeopardy! that aired between Jan. 11 and Jan. 16. As Buzzfeed points out, after that first episode aired, the champion shared a lengthy, since-deleted Facebook post in which he criticized the show, calling it a “glorified reality show” and “fundamentally incompatible with true social justice.” 

“The fact that actual quizzing continues to be a fringe subculture in the shadows is what allowed racists, misogynists, and outright sexual harassers to thrive in collegiate quizbowl for so long,” he wrote in the post. “It’s the reason unapologetic bigots remain in positions of high power at major pub quiz companies. And, as a social scientist, I am telling you that the #1 way to get diverse minorities on an equal footing in quizzing is to make it as meritocratic as possible. Have we learned nothing from Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Peter Norman, and all the other brave POC and allies who proved that ONLY open, meritocratic systems that distribute rewards in proportion to talent and effort permit truth-tellers to survive?”

Raut clarified his comments in a follow-up interview with Buzzfeed, telling the publication, “I have a master’s degree in film and television studies. I know how a television show works. It’s a business. But … Jeopardy is not good for quizzing. You only have to be smart enough to pass their written test, then it doesn’t matter how good at knowing things you are. It matters how telegenic you are.” 

Of course, true meritocracies are sadly hard to come by anywhere, not just in the world of quizzing. But while Raut made some important points, he has since been faced with backlash from Jeopardy! fans and former contestants alike. James Holzhauer, the third highest-earning Jeopardy! winner of all time, even tweeted on Jan. 24 that “anyone who’s ever used social media to criticize Jeopardy or its producers should get a lifetime ban from the show.”

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