“Jeopardy!” all-star Ken Jennings, who’s set to guest host the quiz show beginning on Jan. 11, has apologized after tweets with ableist messaging resurfaced earlier this year.
“I just wanted to own up to the fact that over the years on Twitter, I’ve definitely tweeted some unartful and insensitive things,” he wrote in the first of five tweets. “Sometimes they worked as jokes in my head and I was dismayed to see how they read on screen.”
Hey, I just wanted to own up to the fact that over the years on Twitter, I've definitely tweeted some unartful and insensitive things. Sometimes they worked as jokes in my head and I was dismayed to see how they read on screen. 1/x
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) December 30, 2020
His apology comes in the wake of recent criticism over the old social media posts, which appeared to make jokes at the expense of people with disabilities.
In November, Sony Pictures Television announced that Jennings would serve as one of the interim hosts for “Jeopardy!” after legendary host Alex Trebek died of pancreatic cancer. Shortly after, Twitter users, including actor Yvette Nicole Brown, voiced their discontent with the decision due to Jennings’ past comments about disabilities. One tweet from 2014 read, “Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair.”
The game show host addressed the specific tweet in 2018, noting that he personally apologized to people who reached out to him and that he regretted the joke’s ableist tone.
Jennings also explained on Wednesday that he didn’t delete the controversial posts to avoid any appearance that he was trying to “whitewash a mistake.” He said he does not stand by those past remarks and understands why they were hurtful.
“Sometimes I said dumb things in a dumb way and I want to apologize to people who were (rightfully!) offended,” the fourth tweet reads. “It wasn’t my intention to hurt anyone, but that doesn’t matter: I screwed up, and I’m truly sorry.”
Jennings, known for having the longest winning streak on “Jeopardy!,” said he hopes to head into the new year with kindness in mind.
“If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we should be kinder to one another,” he said. “I look forward to heading into 2021 with that in mind.”