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Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer, and Brad Rutter

The Meaning Behind the Purple Ribbons Worn on the 'Jeopardy! GOAT' Tournament

Gettyimages | Frazer Harrison
By Joe Allen

The "Jeopardy!: The Greatest of All Time" Tournament has been a surprise smash in the ratings, and that's thanks in large part to the highly compelling narrative behind the show. The tournament features the three players who had record-breaking performances on the show's original run competing against one another to see which of them is the best to ever play the game.

The competition, between Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer, and Brad Rutter, and the competition thus far has been thrilling and intense.

Giphy | ABC Network

Of course, the tournament has additional meaning because of the battle that long-time host Alex Trebek is currently waging against stage 4 pancreatic cancer. To honor the host, all three of the tournament's contestants wore purple ribbons.

They also wore the ribbons ahead of the official tournament while promoting the upcoming primetime specials. The next installment of the tournament is set to air on Tuesday on ABC at 8 p.m., with Jennings currently in the lead in the battle to see who the greatest is.


As for Trebek, he's tried to remain as unsentimental as possible through his fight with the disease. "I don't want to get too mushy," Trebek told The Associated Press this month. "I got mushy when young Dhruv (contestant Dhruv Gaur) wrote his final Jeopardy! response, 'We love you Alex!' That caught me by surprise, brought me to the edge of tears."

The outpouring for the host has been tremendous, and it only makes this tournament feel even more important than it would have otherwise.

Giphy | ABC Network

The host continued, saying: "It's humbling to realize there are so many people out there who care enough about you to want to pray for you every day, who want to send you their best wishes."

Although the competition is fierce, all three of the GOAT contestants have made their admiration for Trebek clear throughout the tournament. After all, without the host, each of their legendary runs would have been difficult to achieve. He's what keeps the show going, after all.


"I feel like I've grown up watching Alex and he's the closest thing my generation has to a Walter Cronkite — a broadcaster who you just trust because he's in your home every night," Jennings said on Good Morning America. "It's amazing that he's still with us and he's facing his health battles with such courage."

Although this tournament is ostensibly meant to discover who the greatest "Jeopardy!" player of all time really is, it's also a tribute to the show's most valuable asset.

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