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And the 'Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time' winner is . . .

James Holzhauer, left, Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings

James Holzhauer, left, Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings appear on the set of "Jeopardy!" in Los Angeles. Credit: ABC via AP / Eric McCandless

Who is the GOAT? And "some guy with the New England Patriots" is not the correct answer.

But this guy is: Ken Jennings.

The "Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time" tournament ended Tuesday with a surprise winner, or surprising to anyone who expected James Holzhauer to walk away with this.

Jennings, 45, won the "Jeopardy!" GOAT title without breaking a sweat as far as viewers could tell, and won it by getting the answer (always stated in the form of a question, per the show's rules) to this "Final Jeopardy!" clue:

"He has 272 speeches, the most of any non-title character in a Shakespearean tragedy."

The answer: "Who is Iago?" (The baddie in "Othello.")

But you knew that.

Jennings (on the show from 2003 to '04) was the best-known "Jeopardy!" contestant until Holzhauer came along last summer. Holzhauer was the contestant who broke the game and the buzzer — the human machine who won $2.7 million over 33 appearances and broke that buzzer in the process. But over these last few nights, Jennings did some breaking of his own. He'd hold the buzzer up, psych out Holzhauer, and then take a beat or two. After the pause, the right answer usually followed.

This multinight special was about a lot of things, foremost money (for Sony), bragging rights (for the winner, who also gets $1 million), and most of all a celebration of a certain host (you know who). Alex Trebek, 79, announced in March that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and since then, ABC has sought a difficult balance: How to honor the greatest game show host in TV history?

Trebek has periodically spoken to the press about his battle but to a certain extent this "GOAT" series has been a celebration of him. "I don't mean to be negative," Trebek said early in Tuesday's final, "but this is probably the last time we will see you competing on this program."

The other would-be GOAT, Brad Rutter (his earlier championship run was all the way back in 2000), then spoke for millions: "I'm going to miss you, Alex."

Last week, Holzhauer missed a clue, but he didn't miss a cue. When he couldn't get the final "Jeopardy!" answer — something about a pair of Oscar-winning directors — he scrawled down this instead: "GHOAT."

All of us millions know what the "H" stands for.


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