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Alex Trebek is used to mingling with some of the smartest people in the nation. The long-time Jeopardy! host admitted that he doesn’t know every single answer on the board, but he does have a good handle on trivia after heading up the popular trivia game show for almost four decades.

However, certain categories on Jeopardy! are notoriously harder than others. And one category in particular had to get “dumbed down” when not a single contestant could guess the questions correctly.

Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek | Ben Hider/Getty Images

‘Jeopardy!’ questions have changed over the decades

If you’ve been wondering if the questions on Jeopardy! aren’t what they were even a decade ago, you’re right. A deep dive analysis of topics on the game show proved that the topics are moving away from historical events and toward pop culture.

And now the categories are more themed and performative, too. “You watch an old Jeopardy! and the categories alone are very plain. ’Poetry,’ or ’Movies,’ or ’Physics,’” contestant Ken Jennings told GQ. “If you watch it now, though, there’ll be a theme board where the categories are all Hitchcock movies. Lots more jokes, lots more high-concept categories and questions.”

None of the contestants knew football trivia

Even though the categories are getting easier across the board, one batch of contestants was incredibly stumped on the subject of football. Trebek poked fun at the three contestants who couldn’t even answer the easiest football answers correctly.

At the end of the category, with only one $1,000 clue left on the board and zero correct answers, Trebek quipped, “Let’s look at the $1,000 clue just for the fun of it.”

He revealed the clue and said, “If you guys ring in and get this one…I will die.”

Alex Trebek made the football category easier on ‘Jeopardy!’

Fearing another round of crickets, the 79-year-old  game show host made the impossible football category easier the next time it came up in rotation, CinemaBlend reported.

Before revealing the clues, Trebek said, “Now, last year, we had some difficulty with the football category. So, we thought we would try it again, but in this category it deals entirely with referees’ signals. And I’m going to be giving you three players the signals. OK?”

True to his word, Trebek acted as the referee, acting out the hand signals of football calls. His tactic worked because some of the contestants got the answers correct — a vast improvement on the first time around.

The most difficult ‘Jeopardy!’ categories


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Football is one of the more surprising additions to the difficult category list. Some other notable difficult topics include Canadian Cities, National Marine Sanctuaries, Foo Fighters, States That Flow Together, The Roosevelts, Classical Music, Video Games, Movie Title Math, and Journalism Cliches, as RD reported.

But obviously each show is different and depends on those contestants’ personal trivia knowledge. The football category shutdown almost certainly had plenty of armchair Jeopardy! players screaming the answers at their television.

Prospective Jeopardy! contestants would be wise to brush up on their football knowledge, clearly.