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'Jeopardy!' Champion Claps Back on Twitter After Viewers Criticize His "Arrogant" Behavior

·4-min read

The 2021 Tournament of Champions is officially underway on Jeopardy!, and the first day of competition got folks talking.

Since 1965, the special two-week event has brought together an elite group of contestants who’ve made their mark on the show to compete for a grand prize. This year, guest host and 2017 ToC winner Buzzy Cohen re-introduced viewers to Ryan Bilger, who earned more than $100,000 over four games in 2019. But not everyone watching from home was rooting for him.

On Monday’s episode, the West Virginia graduate student went up against fellow Jeopardy! champions Jason Zuffranieri and Sarah Jett Rayburn. During the show, Ryan’s "arrogant" behavior quickly came under fire. Specifically, viewers called him out on Twitter and Instagram for thumping his chest and saying things like, "go for the kill.”

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“It’s one thing to get excited. It’s another to have some semblance of humility. This guy and his smug attitude turned me off to the tournament,” one person tweeted. “His attitude diminishes Jeopardy. Very uncomfortable to watch,” another added. “This guy was beyond irritating to watch. I understand being happy/proud, but this is just nonsense,” a different fan said on Instagram. “Does Ryan not realize that all the contestants are Champions? His attitude was hard to watch. Totally unnecessary and so not Jeopardy,” a follower commented.

After reading the negative comments on social media, Ryan decided to respond, first on Reddit and then on Twitter. “So uh hi there,” he wrote. “I see there’s a lot of people out there who are displeased with me after Jeopardy tonight.”

He continued: “Look, I get it. I had a ton of adrenaline flowing through my veins … I was playing better than I ever expected. Yes, I got pretty loud and excited. I get that that’s not what many people want out of Jeopardy.”

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The Pennsylvania native then expressed that if he could, he would take back the "go for the kill” comment. But he was caught up “in the moment” and got “so excited to play” after waiting two years. Still, Ryan acknowledged that this didn’t excuse his behavior. What’s more, he shared that he spoke with Jason and Sarah who told him that he had “nothing to apologize to them for.”

Ryan ended his Twitter thread with an apology and encouraged people to tune in next week after winning Monday night’s round. Despite the internet’s response, he nabbed a spot as a semifinalist on the ABC competition series.

“For everyone else, hey, sorry that I ruined your Jeopardy watching night,” he wrote. “I get it. If you want to make imputations about my character, then fine, but you can do it to my face. I know who I am and this TOC field is an amazing group of people and I’m honored to be a part of it. See you next week through the TV, whether you like me or hate me.”

After Ryan shared his candid thoughts, more comments came in and Jeopardy!'s own Twitter account was forced to remind viewers to be considerate of one another. “While we welcome a lively exchange with our fans, please keep the level of conversation respectful and appropriate,” the show's tweet read.

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Just this morning, Ryan once again took to Twitter to address the controversy, where he dubbed himself "the newest internet villain" and encouraged viewers to watch another "great TOC matchup" tonight.

Tonight, three more Jeopardy! champions will go head-to-head to get one step closer to the grand prize of $250,000. Will there be more memorable moments from this tournament? We'll just have to tune in to find out.

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