With great power comes great responsibility – social media, included.
With nearly half a million followers on Twitter, Ken Jennings has had unfortunate circumstances – posting insensitive and disrespectful tweets. People have called him out several times, and his tweets went viral for the wrong reasons.
Jennings in 2014 made a Twitter post that sparked public backlash online for being ableist and insulting. He posted, “Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair.” It led to wheelchair users on Twitter posting selfies and using hashtags including #DisabledAndCute and #HotPersonInAWheelchair
When someone retweeted that comment in 2018, Jennings responded on Twitter, saying: “I never did a public flogging for this, but I did apologize personally to angry/hurt people who reached out personally. It was a joke so inept that it meant something very different in my head [and] I regret the ableist plain reading of it.”
Jennings also made several bad taste jokes on social media regarding a Star Wars fan, an 11-year-old Barron Trump, and an elderly grandmother in mourning.
But Jennings know it’s never too late to apologize for such misdeeds – and so he did.
Ken Jennings tweeted a series of apologies on the microblogging platform as he prepares to start his run as the first Jeopardy! Host to follow the show’s longtime master of ceremonies, Alex Trebek, who died in November after a 36-year stint.
On Wednesday, he apologized for the “unartful and insensitive things” he posted over the years. He explained that many of the words worked as jokes in his head, but he was “dismayed to see how they read on screen.”
He also explained that he didn’t delete his previous posts because it would feel like he was “whitewashing a mistake,” but he said that he didn’t stand by everything he said in the past.
“Sometimes I said dumb things in a dumb way and I want to apologize to people who were (rightfully!) offended,” Jennings said. “It wasn’t my intention to hurt anyone, but that doesn’t matter; I screwed up, and I’m truly sorry.”
Sometimes I said dumb things in a dumb way and I want to apologize to people who were (rightfully!) offended. It wasn't my intention to hurt anyone, but that doesn't matter: I screwed up, and I'm truly sorry. 4/x— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) December 30, 2020
In his final post on the subject, Jennings said, “If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we should be kinder to one another. I look forward to heading into 2021 with that in mind.”
It was no surprise to Jeopardy! fans when the show announced that Ken Jennings would host the show. He first competed on the show in 2003 and appeared on 74 games in a row – the longest winning streak in the show’s history. Ken Jennings has become so associated with Jeopardy! that he joined as the consulting producer and occasionally popped up to deliver clues.
Jeopardy! is airing a retrospective of Trebek’s best episodes through this week. Beginning January 4, viewers can see the final week of episodes that Trebek taped.
Ken Jenning’s temporary hosting duties at Jeopardy! will start on January 11. The search for a permanent host is still ongoing.