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Ken Jennings gushes over Jeopardy! champ Isaac Hirsch with mid-game ‘confidence booster’ before big 4th win

JEOPARDY! contestant Isaac Hirsch has scored a stellar fourth win and some surprising encouragement from Ken Jennings in front of the other players.

Isaac faced Stephanie Lewis from Washington, D.C., and Karan Menon from Edison, New Jersey, on Monday night.


Isaac Hirsch (left) hit a season record for most correct answers in the Jeopardy! round[/caption]


Ken Jennings said mid-game, ’18 correct responses for Isaac. That’s tied for a season-high!’[/caption]


Fans were surprised by Ken’s comment, ‘Isn’t he supposed to share milestones like that in the next episode?’ but are loving his run[/caption]

After three strong showings, the sharp-dressed Burbank, California champ was back for more.

In the Jeopardy! round, Isaac got 18 correct responses (including a $2200 Daily Double) and only one incorrect.

This stat tied him for a season-long record with Drew Basile.

Ken, 50, shared Isaac’s achievement directly afterward, instead of in the next episode as he did with Drew, which fans weren’t expecting.

“18 correct responses for Isaac in the first round,” Ken said to open the second round. “That’s tied for a season-high!”

The host amended, “But let’s find out what happens in Double Jeopardy.”

Going into Double Jeopardy!, Isaac boasted $11,800, Karan (who won the Geographic Spelling Bee) had $2,400, and Stephanie (who shared that she accidentally ate a glowstick) trailed at $200.

From there, Isaac pulled further ahead, snatching the remaining Daily Doubles, one for $5000 with the correct response of “Bullet Train,” putting him on the fast track to a runaway.

By Final Jeopardy! he had an uncatchable $27,400, Karan had $7,200 and Stephanie $5,000.

The “Opera” clue was, “The melody of a traditional piece for the Koto called “Echigo-jishi” is used in Act 1 of this opera.”

Everyone correctly guessed “Madam Butterfly,” with Isaac adding $3,000 to win $30,400 for a four-day total of $100,586 and an astonished expression.


Fans flooded social media to discuss Isaac’s powerhouse win, which saw him hit the six figures, and Ken’s mid-game comment.

“That may be one of (if not the) easiest Opera FJ in the history of the show,” one Redditor knocked.

“Well… I think Isaac could be here for a while,” remarked another.

“Ken shouting out Isaac’s impressive first half like he did with Drew’s performance of the season was a nice touch, perhaps a confidence booster,” noted a third.

“I was surprised Ken gave Isaac props in the middle of the game. Isn’t he supposed to share milestones like that in the next episode? All good but seemed a little favorable to him,” wrote a fourth on Facebook.

“I’m excited for Isaac. I hope he makes at least five wins for a guaranteed spot in the ToC,” wrote a fifth Redditor.

“Getting 30+ clues correct in three consecutive matches is an incredible feat that few have accomplished. Isaac is in elite company already,” wrote a sixth.

Others appreciated the champ’s hilarious anecdotes which have ranged from his recent fitness journey as a “thin guy” to his car being a background star on Brooklyn ’99.

“Yes, Isaac is winning these games in impressive fashion. But he’s also winning the interview portion of the show.

“I don’t recall any contestant having such a run of funny and/or charming anecdotes as he’s had to start his time on the show.”

One more fan wrote, “Wow in my opinion Isaac has been the strongest contestant we’ve seen so far in Season 40 of Jeopardy. Isaac is attempting about 45 out of the 57 possible buzzes, very elite company.”

Isaac will go for win number five on Tuesday, which would qualify him for the next Tournament of Champions.

The other qualifiers are Drew (7 wins), Adriana Harmeyer (15 wins), Alison Betts (5 wins) and Dr. Amy Hummel (5 wins), and Celebrity Jeopardy!’s Lisa Ann Walter. With four wins, Grant DeYoung and Amar Kakirde will also likely join in.

Isaac Hirsch got ‘Madam Butterfly’ capping off his third runaway of four wins
Other fans said he ‘has been the strongest contestant we’ve seen so far in Season 40’ – he’s also a hit during the interviews


Isaac first appeared on Wednesday, July 3’s episode, and has been winning since, with three of his four victories in a runaway fashion.

Speaking of fashion, he has also turned heads with his wardrobe choices that resemble ’70s menswear.

“That current champion looks like a 70s p*rn star,” one Facebook user recently posted.

“I’m guessing Isaac hit Studio 54 after that show’s taping,” mocked another.

However, many fans have come to Issac’s defense and like his signature style.

“This guy makes me look forward to the next game! What will he wear?,” a third wrote. “He’s quirky and funny….and super smart! We should have more people like this in our lives!”

Isaac took to Instagram over the weekend to reflect on his sudden winning streak and, yes, his outfits.

“Well, this is going better than expected!” he wrote, explaining that he was a local alternate who had been waiting in the wings.

“I went into this with actually pretty low confidence— as a local alternate, I watched seven games get filmed before I taped.

“And [I] found myself doing terribly in the green room and having trouble with the buzzer in rehearsal.”

“But at this point I have kind of figured the buzzer out and they’re asking about things I’ve heard of, which is very nice of them. We’ll see if I can keep things going next week!”

He added, “The Internet is divided on my love of 70s menswear.

“Good news for the haters: I am almost out of vintage shirts approved by wardrobe.

“So if I keep winning, the fits are going to get a lot more subdued.

“I should also mention my last two shirts were gifts from my stylist/girlfriend.”


Jeopardy! viewers can’t stop making remarks about Isaac’s ’70s-style wardrobe[/caption]

Instagram/ ibhirsch

He addressed the ‘haters’ on Instagram ‘I’m almost out of vintage shirts approved by wardrobe’[/caption]

Instagram/ ibhirsch

Isaac shared a photo of his father competing in 1985[/caption]


His Instagram post was accompanied by a slideshow of photos, including his dad, Steve Hirsch, competing on the show in 1985 (seen above).

During his first win, Isaac recalled that his dad appeared on Jeopardy! – and lost – 30 years ago.

“My dad was on Jeopardy! in the ’80s and one of the first years Alex hosted, and he lost,” said Isaac.

“I used to tease him about it as a kid. Like Weird Al’s ‘I Lost On Jeopardy!,” being like, ‘It’s about you, Dad!’”

Ken burst out laughing as Isaac concluded, “So today, we get to find out how real karma is.”

Jeopardy! shared an Instagram video of Isaac’s story, and his dad, Steven, chimed in in the comments section, wanting a second chance.

“If Ken Jennings is going to keep mentioning that I lost on Jeopardy, I want another chance! Bring me back for another shot at winning!,” he wrote.


Meanwhile, Isaac – who was previously a stand-up comedian – is no stranger to the game show circuit.

In 2023, he won $140,000 on the ABC game show The Chase, defeating Chaser and nine-day Jeopardy! champion Buzzy Cohen.

In 2017, Isaac also appeared on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, winning $5,000 after incorrectly answering the $20,000 question.

He seems to be faring just as well if not better on Jeopardy!, and certainly better than his dad (at least until that second chance comes).

Jeopardy! airs at 7 p.m. ET – check your local listings.


Isaac Hirsch on The Chase in 2023[/caption]


Isaac on Millionaire in 2017 (before he began his fitness journey, as he shared tonight)[/caption]

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