Ken Jennings on Being a Contestant on ‘500 Questions’

500 Questions
Adam Taylor/ABC

Which trivia all-star—who won a record-breaking 74 consecutive games of Jeopardy! in 2004—is returning to TV this summer as the first contestant of the second season of the ABC quiz show 500 Questions? The answer: Ken Jennings! The champ opens up about his quest for more game-show glory. Also, watch an exclusive clip of the first question Jennings gets on the show.

What do you like about 500 Questions?
A show like Jeopardy! has been a huge hit for over 30 years, but the trend now is to decompress game shows. You have one question, then five minutes of nervous banter with the host, the synthesizer hits and the spotlights all change. I liked that 500 Questions was an attempt to do another fast-paced game show with a lot of game and a lot less filler.

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What’s the biggest difference between Jeopardy! and 500 Questions?
Jeopardy! is more forgiving. If you get three questions in a row wrong, you just suck it up and get back in the game. In 500 Questions, if you get three answers wrong, you’re done. So the game can change literally at any time.

Do you feel pressure to live up to your Jeopardy! accomplishments?
Yeah, I do feel that a lot, and I’ve just got to let go of it because that was a probability-pushing streak of luck that I don’t even understand. That’s just not going to happen every time I play a quiz game.

Are people intimidated if you show up for bar trivia?
(Laughs) It’s a no-win scenario. If I win, nobody’s happy, and if I lose, it’s not great either. I wanted to play [bar trivia while doing research] for a book, so I went into a Boston bar with a Red Sox hat pulled over my head. Nobody recognized me!

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Are there more game shows you would like to try?
When I was a little kid, I was obsessed with Richard Dawson–era Family Feud. My kids are a little too young for all the PG-13 jokes on modern Family Feud, but apart from the d–k jokes, it would be awesome to be on the Feud with Steve Harvey.

500 Questions, Season Premiere, Thursday, May 26, 8/7c, ABC