No, you’re not having déjà vu. You’ve seen this guy before and you know he can play. Tomorrow, four-game winner Ryan Fenster returns to the Jeopardy! stage.
On occasion, contestants are invited back to compete again, but only under a rare set of circumstances. These invitations are reserved for players whose responses were later reconsidered because the wording of the clue was deemed to be incorrect, or additional research provided new insight to change the judges’ initial ruling. And most importantly, the clue in question occurred at a critical point in the game when a wager or the clue value could have changed the final outcome.
In Ryan’s last game, he faced a $1200 clue in the Double Jeopardy! round that read, “St. Thomas Aquinas died traveling to Lyon, France while attempting to heal this rift between the Latin & Greek churches.” He asked, “What is the Great Schism?” and was ruled incorrect.
This ruling caught the attention of content manager Matthew Sherman, who started as a Jeopardy! researcher 13 years ago and now oversees all materials for the mobile games. To prevent overlapping in content, Matthew still pays close attention to every taping. “I was watching the show that day and I saw that question come up,” he explained. “And I also thought the response was ‘Great Schism.’” Old habits die hard: He immediately took to the internet, delving into the subject. While the term “the Great Schism” typically pertains to the East–West Schism in the year 1054, it can also refer to the Western Schism in 1378, the rift mentioned in the clue.
“I thought that was curious, so I emailed Billy Wisse, the head writer over at Jeopardy!,” Matthew said. Sometime later, Billy called him back with an update: Matthew was right, and the show had decided Ryan would get another go behind the Jeopardy! podium – well before his last episode aired.
While Ryan isn’t the first contestant to be brought back, he will face a rare opportunity. With four wins from his previous run, Ryan has the chance to make this game his fifth victory and officially become a streaker.
Tune in tomorrow and welcome Ryan back!