Jeopardy!’s showrunner, Michael Davies, revealed that the game show will move forward with season 40 by reusing old questions and former contestants amid the ongoing writers’ strike.
“I believe, principally, that it would not be fair to have new contestants making their first appearance on the Alex Trebek Stage, doing it with non-original material, or as we’ll talk about a combination of non-original material and material that was written pre-strike,” said Davies on the Monday, August 7, episode of his “Inside Jeopardy!” podcast. “And so we decided that really we needed to invite back and give a second chance in general to players who probably thought that their chance to come back and play on the Alex Trebek Stage had gone forever.”
Davies went on to explain that the show would use “a combination of material” that Jeopardy!’s WGA writers created before the strike occurred and mix in with questions from “multiple seasons of the show.”
Before the Writer’s Guild of America strike started in May, the show initially planned on doing its annual “Tournament of Champions.” However, several participants — including 13-time winner Ray LaLonde — announced they would not participate to stand in solidarity with the writers guild.
“I am a lifelong devoted fan of Jeopardy!. I am and will always be grateful for the experience I had on the show and the opportunity to participate in the [‘Tournament of Champions’] is beyond a dream come true for me,” LaLonde wrote via Reddit in July. “As a supporter of the trade union movement, a union member’s son and a proud union member myself, I have informed the show’s producers that if the strike remains unresolved I will not cross a picket line to play in the tournament of champions.”
As no progress has been made on the strike status, the team at Jeopardy! has decided to pause the plan for the tournament for the time being. Instead, season 40 will kick off with a “second chance tournament” for losing contestants from season 37. The winners from that series will move forward to a “Champions Wild Card.”
Davies revealed that the “Tournament of Champions” will return once the strike ends.
In addition to the new protocols for the upcoming season, Davies also announced that the game show’s prize fund for the runner-ups will also increase by $1,000 each for the first time in two decades.
“The third place prize will move up to $2,000. The second place prize will move up to $3,000,” he stated while noting the idea has been discussed by fans and contestants. “This is something that we’ve been working on ever since I really took the reins of the show.”