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7 Jeopardy! Categories That Stump Everyone

Think you have what it takes to win Jeopardy!? You’ll have to brush up on some of these topics—these truly confounded the contestants.

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Jeopardy! CategoriesPhoto: Shutterstock

Jeopardy! Categories

You have to be pretty smart to get picked to be a contestant on “Jeopardy!” Being well-read helps, of course, as does the ability to retain countless obscure trivial facts. You also need a fast trigger finger, as the buzzer is notoriously hard to master. And a little luck comes in handy too, as one show winner found out. But sometimes forces conspire in all the wrong ways, and all three contestants get stumped. Here are a few categories no one got right.

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NFL textPhoto: Shutterstock


It’s too easy—and not necessarily true—to assume that “Jeopardy!” intellectuals aren’t big sports fans. But in this episode, none of the contestants knew that what team “Mean” Joe Green played for. Even if you’re not a football fan, you might remember the Coke commercial in which he tosses his jersey to a boy who gave him an ice-cold Coke. Correct response: the Pittsburgh Steelers. And one contestant guessed that famous running back Marcus Allen played for the Colorado Rockies—which is a baseball team. Correct answer—er, question: “Who are the Los Angeles Raiders?”

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Canadian cities textPhoto: Shutterstock

Canadian Cities

Host Alex Trebek, an Ontario native, must have been disappointed that no one guessed any of these correctly. Even this one: “Residents of this Saskatchewan city are called Moose Javians.” Correct response: Moose Jaw. Contestant Randy Pike lost $8,000 in just a minute and a half, though he would likely fare better with American cities, as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army.

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National Marine Sanctuaries

The first two questions—about Florida shipwrecks and the elephant seals at Monterey Bay—stumped all three players. So they steered clear of the last three questions altogether.

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Foo Fighters textPhoto: Shutterstock

Foo Fighters

This one and the ones that follow didn’t stump everybody every time, but they were tough. A contestant knew that frontman Dave Grohl used to be in Nirvana and that the name “Foo Fighters” refers to UFOs that bother sailors at night. But when asked about album titles and song lyrics, everyone was in over their heads.

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States That Flow Together

What the heck does that mean? According to Trebek, “Each correct response will be two states. The last letter of one state will be the first letter of the adjoining state.” The $200 clue was “One has St. Louis, the other has east St. Louis.” The correct response was “Missouri and Illinois.” Get it?

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The Roosevelts

In the same game as those tricky states, contestants were stumped about Eleanor in two different categories and couldn’t come up FDR’s signature achievement, the New Deal.

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Journalism Cliches

While contestants knew that “manicured” lawns and “silver bullets” were tired expressions used too often in news reports, no one could come up with “shrouded in mystery,” “game changer,” or “poster child.”

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest