It was a special day on September 12 as Jeopardy! returned for its 39th season, and so too did the studio audience, marking the first time in two and half years that the game show was filmed in front of a live crowd.
The episode also marked Ken Jennings‘ first show since being named permanent host alongside Mayim Bialik. The former Jeopardy! champion opened the show to rapturous applause and appeared somewhat emotional over the reaction.
“I am so honored to be announced as the host of Jeopardy!,” said Jennings at the top of the show. “But I’m even more excited to be here with you, beginning a new season with our Emmy-winning Jeopardy! staff and crew, with an audience back in the studio for the first time in two and half years, yes!”
And the crowd goes 👏👏👏 After two and a half years without an audience, it feels good to have you back.
Welcome an all-new season of categories, clues and contestants. Jeopardy! S39 premieres TONIGHT 🥳 pic.twitter.com/fS8vapIE2I
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) September 12, 2022
Viewers were equally delighted to begin a new season with Jennings at the helm. A Reddit user, Cliff Clavin, who says he was in attendance at the taping, described the moment that the Jeopardy! G.O.A.T. first walked out onto the stage. “As Ken walks out, the audience bursts into an uproarious applause for what seemed like a solid 20 seconds,” Clavin wrote.
He continued, “Ken was beaming ear to ear — he seemed shocked and taken aback at the applause and tried to stop the crowd so he could do his opening monologue.” Apparently, the applause was so unexpected that it made Jennings stumble over his words. “Ken said, “Sorry, the applause threw me off; we haven’t had anyone here in years!””
“[Jennings’] reaction to the audience was so genuine and a reflection of just how much the show means to him,” added another Reddit commenter.
“Wow. It never bothered me that Ken was introduced as “hosting Jeopardy!” before but hearing Johnny say “And now, the host of Jeopardy!, Ken Jennings!” made me sooooooo giddily happy,” wrote another fan.
“I had the BIGGEST smile on my face for that entire opening,” said another viewer. “The crowd cheering, Johnny announcing him as host, and then Ken coming out and nailing the opening. Just couldn’t contain my excitement.”
Jennings also received praise for his old Jeopardy! rival Julia Lazarus, who tweeted that it was “all too much” and she needed to “go lie down.” Responding to his former foe’s tweet, Jennings wrote, “Awww. Julia and I were the two challengers on my very first Jeopardy! show 18½ years ago.”
Awww. Julia and I were the two challengers on my very first Jeopardy! show 18½ years ago. https://t.co/DHK5KVmBuz
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) September 13, 2022
Jeopardy!, Weeknights, Check your local listings
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