You’ve probably heard of Kevin O’Leary if you’ve watched even a small portion of Shark Tank, or even just the promo.
The program where multimillionaire investors compete to invest in innovative product or service concepts was first popularised by Canadian businessmen and sometimes politicians.
O’Leary helped to market the program as a location where wealthy people could find new investments as well as showcase their personalities by adopting the consciously rude “Mr. Wonderful” image (over the years the show has picked up the likes of Mark Cuban and Bethenny Frankel as panelists).
This week sees the debut of O’Leary’s new CNBC program, Money Court, where he will preside over a panel of three people who will adjudicate money issues in the manner of People’s Court.
O’Leary’s role as Money Court’s primary adjudicator derives from the same notion that makes a Shark Tank contestant someone who must be courted for approval: the notion that his capacity for generating wealth makes him knowledgeable.
This is hardly a novel or radical idea. The type of misconception that leads to some persons being elected president is the notion that wealthy people must possess knowledge that the rest of us common mortals do not.
Because of this, it’s gratifying to have presumptions of this nature debunked in public, as O’Leary did in a 2015 celebrity Jeopardy round against astronaut Mark Kelly and NFL star Aaron Rodgers.
In contrast to Rodgers, who performed so well that he was later asked to return as one of the show’s numerous temporary guest presenters after Alex Trebek’s passing, O’Leary performed about as horribly as any famous person has ever done. Only Wolf Blitzer’s iconic Jeopardy misstep can compare in terms of schadenfreude, but it’s much more entertaining to take pleasure in O’Leary’s stupidity.
Despite the fact that O’Leary’s complete Jeopardy faceplant is sadly not available to stream, the Canadian progressive news outlet PressProgress created a sort of anti-highlight reel in 2017 while O’Leary was vying to lead the country’s Conservative Party (he withdrew a month before the election)
There is significant disagreement regarding whether O’Leary was able to get something before any questions were even asked. Some viewers claim he misspelled his own name on the stage, but O’Leary’s supporters claim that what appeared to some to be an additional “L” in “Wonderful” was instead an exclamation point.
O’Leary misguessed “Liechtenstein” when the correct response was “Vatican City” in relation to a question about minor European nations. O’Leary was already at minus $400 score when the show cut to its first commercial. He was able to recover to a $1200 score by the end of the Jeopardy round, but he had the unpleasant distinction of having to start Double Jeopardy first.
The game show “Double Jeopardy” is really where things went south for Mr. Wonderful(l), as he repeatedly gave the wrong answers. In one particularly embarrassing instance, he was asked to name the city that Bruce Springsteen was singing about in the song “You’re going to see me wasting away in the streets of [this city].”
Now, even if you don’t know the song or can’t tell from the context that Springsteen had a famous, Oscar-winning song called “Streets of Philadelphia,” you’d still understand that Alex was asking for the name of a city, making O’Leary’s guess of “What is New Jersey” actually a mistake. Simply don’t buzz in, my man!
In the cruelest twist of the knife, O’Leary’s Double Jeopardy round finished with a hefty loss of $2800. That would exclude the player from participating in Final Jeopardy in a standard Jeopardy game (as they wouldn’t have anything to gamble).
O’Leary’s total was raised to $1,000 so he could compete with the other boys on Celebrity Jeopardy, though, because charities were on the line. One can only imagine the humiliation a well-known conservative businessman and occasional politician would feel if he had to accept a handout because of his own failures.
You should not worry that O’Leary’s pity money enabled him to finish ahead of his more knowledgeable competitors. He mistook the Wright brothers for the motorbike pioneers Harley and Davidson, bringing his final score back to zero.
It’s not always fair in this universe. Rich, ostentatious people frequently succeed while intelligent, modest people struggle. However, occasionally the cosmos serves as an equalizer, and on those occasions, Celebrity Jeopardy serves as its tool.
Therefore, keep in mind that this is a man who believes that New Jersey is a city as you watch Money Court this week and witness Kevin O’Leary make decisions with an air of presumption. Your day will be enhanced.
The co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast and managing editor at Primetime is Joe Reid. His writing has featured in numerous publications, including Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, and The A.V. Club.
Irving is the Chief Editor at the Landscape Insight. He lives just outside of New York. His writings have also been featured in some very famous magazines. When he isn’t reading the source material for a piece or decompressing with a comfort horror movie, Irving is usually somewhere in his car.