Jeopardy! fans are giving game show GOAT Ken Jennings a warm welcome back to the legendary lectern. Filling in once again as guest host, Jennings keeps quite busy between his gigs on Jeopardy! and ABC’s prime time show The Chase. The Washington native also has a full family life on the home front with his wife and two children.
Ken Jennings and his wife have two teenagers
Jennings met his wife, Mindy, when the two were college students at Brigham Young University and tied the knot in 2000. They have two kids – Dylan, 19, and Caitlin, 15. Well into fatherhood before he began his 74-game winning streak on Jeopardy!, Jennings noted how the record-breaking run shifted the entire trajectory of his professional life.
“My career change has been the biggest surprise,” he told LifeHacker in 2018. “I was a perfectly happy suburban dad and computer programmer back in 2004, the year I turned 30. I was not expecting to win on Jeopardy! for six months straight and start a new career as a writer and professional know-it-all.”
After raking in $2.5 million on Jeopardy!, Jennings was able to leave his nine-to-five job as a software engineer to become a full-time author and television personality. The flexibility allowed him to work from home, which came with pros and cons on the parenting front.
“My home office is right by the front door, so as soon as the kids are home from school, they come barreling in,” he revealed. “I thought about putting a lock on the door but I ended up just embracing the catastrophe. I work as fast as I can so that I can be mostly done with the day’s writing before the quiet ends.”
‘Jeopardy!’ GOAT focuses on respect in parenting – and dishwasher etiquette
When asked to recount a “proud parenting moment”, Jennings recalled once allowing his children to navigate their way around Manhattan on their own.
“I like to see the kids confident about stretching their wings a little,” he explained. “When we were in New York a couple summers ago, they both really wanted to go play Pokemon Go in Central Park one evening, but Mindy and I had dinner reservations. We decided to let them walk over on their own and have a little adventure. They could not have been happier or cuter about it, and also did not get kidnapped and die.”
The Jeopardy! GOAT stresses the importance of character when it comes to being a role model for his kids… and some forethought when dealing with a certain kitchen appliance.
“Hopefully that every single person they meet deserves to be treated with decency and respect,” he said of setting an example to Dylan and Caitlin. “And also to load the dishwasher in the correct way that I load it, not the weird way their mother does it.”
Ken Jennings encourages parents to ‘live it up’ with their kids
Jennings described some challenges he’s faced as a parent, including “having to keep up with all the new youth slang and internet memes to annoy your kids with in front of their friends.” As for advice to new parents, the Jeopardy! star places a premium on reading to kids and cherishing the time you have with your children.
“All the cliches about how ‘the days are long but the years are short’ are absolutely true,” he remarked. “You’re not going to be the parent of young kids for very long, relatively speaking. Live it up. Go to the park. Buy them ice cream.”
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