‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Sam Kavanaugh Calls ‘Masters’ Tournament Omission a ‘Gut Punch’

Sam Kavanaugh on Jeopardy!
Jeopardy, Inc

Sam Kavanaugh, who won Jeopardy!‘s Tournament of Champions in 2021, has shared his “disappointment” after not being invited to participate in the recently announced Masters tournament.

On Wednesday (Jan 11), ABC gave the green light to Jeopardy! Masters, which will see the six highest-ranked, current Jeopardy! contestants face off in a Champions League-style event. The six contestants include recent super-champs Amy Schneider, Matt Amodio, Mattea Roach, and Andrew He, along with Professors’ Tournament winner Sam Buttrey and TOC 2019 winner James Holzhauer.

The inclusion of the 2019 TOC winner over the more recent 2021 TOC victor came as somewhat of a surprise, especially for Kavanaugh, who took to Twitter on Wednesday to share his thoughts.

“Well, seeing the news today that I am not invited to the Jeopardy Masters was a bit of a gut punch,” he tweeted. “Nothing is ever guaranteed so I wasn’t planning on it, but because every other ToC winner in history was invited to a subsequent tourney, I was planning *for* it.”

“It’s hard to hang up the hat especially after working so hard over the past months to reach my full Jeopardy potential (I think I was about 80% of the way there in my ToC),” he continued before saying he was confident he could “beat any one of these contestants, & hope there’s still a chance to do so in the future.”

Despite the “sting of disappointment,” Kavanaugh said he would “absolutely” be watching the Masters tournament. “These 6 are great players & great people, & they will put on a good show,” he said. “I sincerely hope they have a blast, & that Masters brings as much joy to a new audience as the show has, & does, for me.”

Some fans shared Kavanaugh’s disappointment but tried to give him hope that he would be invited back for a future season.

“Your loss is, well, everybody else’s loss,” tweeted one viewer. “I would have loved to see you take part in J!-Mass (that’s the cool-guy name I have for J!-Mass), but I have no doubt you’ll be back on the show in some capacity before long. Way to show champs support champs, champ!”

“For what it’s worth – I share your disappointment. Now hopefully there are more of those so you can assert your place. I’d certainly tune in,” added another commenter.

A fan on the Jeopardy! Reddit forum offered a reason as to why Kavanaugh was possibly left out of the mix. “To be honest, I had to google Sam Kavanaugh, which I think is why he didn’t get the invite. They went with more top-of-mind champions,” they wrote.

“I’m sure he’ll get invited to future events, but for a primetime event with a small pool of past champs — they’re gonna go with high-profile people we remember, which happen to be very recent champs and, of course, James,” they continued.

Others shared similar sentiments, with one Reddit user writing, “It makes a lot of sense imo. Whether we like it or not, Jeopardy! is first and foremost a tv show. They wanted a group they thought would attract the most viewers.”

Jeopardy!, Weeknights, Check your local listings