Star Trek legend and fan favorite LeVar Burton made his debut appearance as the host of Jeopardy! on Monday, but that’s not the only history that was made. The episode also featured the lowest score ever on the game show. The dubious record was set by Patrick Pearce, a product specialist from Fountain View, California. He entered Final Jeopardy with -$7,400 — which is where he stayed, because by rule, a contestant isn’t allowed to compete in Final Jeopardy with either zero or negative funds.
With his amount of wrong answers dipping into double digits, he was climbing out of the hole most of the night before taking a major blow during a Daily Double, and it was a question about U.S. government buildings overseas that finally put him into record breaking territory.
Pearce’s -$7,400 broke the previous record set by Stephanie Hull, who scored $-6,800 during a 2015 episode. “Desperation, desperation, desperation. Yeah. And I was thinking, ‘OK, if I get big money, I’ll get out of the hole,’ but I couldn’t do it. You can tell by the end of the round, it was just a total brain fart at that point,” she explained to Slate about her, uh, memorable experience on the game show. “Like the last question: ‘Speaking this way involves similes & metaphors,’ and I buzzed in and said, ‘What is ‘metaphorically’?’ And they were looking for figuratively. Like, my God, that’s terrible. But I was really in panic mode at that time. Total sheer panic.” Contrary to popular belief, Pearce and Hull do not need to pay the money back… or else.
What a curious way to begin Burton’s tenure as Jeopardy! host. Hopefully there’s many, many, many more episodes to come, ideally with fewer (respectfully) dumb-dumbs.