On Getting Corrected by Ken Jennings

Yesterday: achievement unlocked. I was personally corrected (on Twitter) by Ken Jennings.

What an incredible honour!

Well, I’d always hoped to be corrected by Ken on the set of Jeopardy! itself, but still, a twitter interaction is a pretty cool alternative.

I mentioned to my brilliant colleague Tom that I’d been corrected by Ken Jennings, and Tom replied “Did he find a way to spell handyman without Hayman?” (good one, Tom.)


I have reviewed yesterday’s Final Jeopardy answer and … Well, I’m not sure Ken Jennings was right to correct me after all. And what fun would the Internet be if we didn’t argue about minutia?

The situation:

Final Jeopardy Category: World Capitals

World Capitals
The answer is:


An Annual Event Called Winterlude Includes Skating on the Rideau Canal, a Unesco World Heritage Site in This City.

(Of course every Canadian immediately shouts “What is Ottawa?”)

what is Paris?

Ken gets to the 2nd place contestant. She has written: “What is Paris?”

Jennifer answers 'What is Paris'

here’s what Ken says

Ken says, and I quote:

“Jennifer, you were in second place, which world capital did you write down? ‘What is Paris?’

No, the name is French, but it’s not Paris, so that will cost you something.”

(Remainder of Final Jeopardy unimportant at this point, although Amy Schneider (who also got it wrong, with ‘What is Amsterdam?’) won anyway, her fifth win, congratulations!)

wait, what did he say?

So Cathy and I immediately started debating. When Ken said ‘the name is French, but it’s not Paris‘… what did he mean? Does he think “Ottawa” is a French name?

It isn’t, of course, “Ottawa” comes from the Algonquin word ‘adawe’, meaning ‘to trade.’

Now what do you do when somebody is wrong? You tweet about it, of course. I immediately composed a tweet, saying

And, a few minutes later – oh my god, I got a reply from Ken Jennings himself!

(Saving a screen shot for posterity in case either of us deletes something in the future)

Tweets between Steve and Ken

I better apologize

Suitably chastened – who am I to argue with Ken Jennings – I apologized.

And I then had to wade through multiple tweets from other people. Ken got way more likes on his reply than I got on my original. Apparently a lot of people read all of Ken’s tweets and some feel obliged to reply to me. This one was good.

Along with other tweets from Ken’s army of followers reminding me that he meant that ‘Rideau’ was a French word. And a few helpful but off topic responses –


This has been nagging at me.

It’s an honour to be corrected by the legend Ken Jennings.

But what actually did he say?

The contestant writes What is Paris? and Ken responds

No, the name is French, but it’s not Paris

I think I know what he meant but …. can you not argue that the name and it both refer to the same thing, the correct response (Ottawa) here, not another word in the clue (Rideau)?

It is possible that I actually am right here. Or that we both are.

Not sure I want to risk another Twitter firestorm though!

Ken, if you’re reading this

I’ve taken the Jeopardy! test multiple times. Why don’t you call?


3 Replies to “On Getting Corrected by Ken Jennings”

  1. “The name is French, but it isn’t Paris” was a rather misleading response by Ken. Yes, Rideau is French. But, Ottawa as you alluded to, is from the Algonquin “adawe” meaning “to trade”. But, then, look at it from the American point of view. They think everything in the Canada comes from the French, including the name of our country and the name of our cities. However, some names, as you know, like Canada, Toronto, and Ottawa come from indigenous names that signify community and social interaction. So, you weren’t corrected by Ken. He clarified himself in his arrogant American way to make you look like you were wrong. And being Canadian, you automatically apologized.

  2. Mr. Pedantic Man agrees with you – his intention may have been correct, but his response was poorly phrased, and so he should lose points.

  3. He is consoling the contestant. The name “Rideau” is French, hence her desire to name a French world capital.

    Just like Amsterdam has many canals.

    But he could have said “… the name Rideau is French … ”

    To avoid the ire of the InterWebs.

    (Picturing him having beers with Pat Sajak and Steve Harvey discussing the Twitter-verse)

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