Wednesday, March 21

Sixteen K

You may have read a news blip about how, for the first time ever, Jeopardy ended in a three way tie. (In fact, this wasn't true; it was, however, the first time that the three-way tie was a number greater than $0.)

All the stories took a "what are the chances?" tone, and they all quoted a phoney-baloney number of the odds being 1 in 25 million. But that would only be true if the bets were determined randomly...and they're not. In fact, the only thing left to chance was whether or not all three of them would get Final Jeopardy right. As for the tie itself...the current champion, Scott Weiss, THREW THE GAME.

Let me explain. Going into Final Jeopardy, Scott had $13,000. Both of his opponents had $8000. Scott knew that both of his opponents would bet it all because they'd be hoping that Scott and the other guy would both get the question wrong or wouldn't bet enough.

Therefore, the most his opponents could end up with at the end of the game was $16,000 (that is, double $8000). So, to win, all Scott had to bet was $3001, which would leave him with $16,001.

But Scott only bet $3000. Why?

1. A three-way tie for first is suh-weet.
2. On Monday, he'd face two opponents he already knew he could beat.

but mostly:

3. By all accounts, Scott is one of the nicest guys in the world. If he had won the game, his opponents would have each gotten the $2000 second-place prize. But a three-way tie meant that his opponents would also be champions and each of them would get to keep their $16,000.

It's a fascinating story that's being shamefully underreported. In its own way, there's almost something heroic about it: Scott could have walked away that day with $26,000, but he gave it up so that two strangers would each make an additional $14,000.


Scott's Friend:

Scott Himself: