“Jeopardy!” contestant’s record winning streak ends

“Jeopardy!” contestant’s record winning streak ends

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On November 30, 2004, after winning 74 straight games and more than $2.5 million—a record for U.S. game shows—Jeopardy! contestant Ken Jennings loses. Jennings’ extended winning streak gave the game show a huge ratings boost and turned the software engineer from Salt Lake City, Utah into a TV hero and household name. Barbara Walters named him one of the 10 most fascinating people of the year and Jennings appeared on such shows as Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and even Sesame Street.

Jennings, who was born in 1974, outside of Seattle, Washington, graduated from Brigham Young University in 2000, where he headed the school’s national quiz bowl team.

At the time of Jennings’ appearance, Jeopardy! was well-established as one of the top-rated game shows in American history. Created by TV talk-show host and entertainment mogul Merv Griffin (1925-2007), Jeopardy! debuted in 1964 on NBC, with Art Fleming serving as host. Griffin (who went on to create another hugely popular, long-running game show, Wheel of Fortune, which premiered in 1975) suggested a format in which contestants were given trivia answers in a variety of categories and then required to come up with the questions. Cancelled in 1975, Jeopardy! returned briefly, airing from 1978 through 1979. In September 1984, a syndicated version of Jeopardy! launched with Alex Trebek as host and Johnny Gilbert as the announcer.

The erudite Trebek, who was born in 1940 in Sudbury, Ontario, began his broadcast career in Canada and moved to America in the early 1970s, where he hosted such game shows as High Rollers and Battlestars. In 1991, he became the first person ever to host three game shows at one time, when he served as master of ceremonies for Jeopardy! along with Classic Concentration and To Tell the Truth.

After more than three decades on Jeopardy!, Trebek died of stage 4 pancreatic cancer on November 8, 2020. On November 23, 2020, it was announced Jennings would serve as interim host of Jeopardy!

The Top Winners On Jeopardy! Ranked By Prize Money

Until the death of longtime host Alex Trebek, "Jeopardy!" was the highest-rated game show on television, according to Salon. The beloved trivia show has aired since 1964, so it's only natural viewers might wonder about previous contestants – or more specifically, their winnings. Each week, numerous contestants compete for serious cash using their knowledge of everything from history to pop culture. While some players have walked away empty-handed, others have walked away with millions.

According to All Star's "Jeopardy!" records, the smallest amount a winner has won was $1, by Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Darryl Scott in 1993. Scott and the other two contestants each answered the final question wrong, but Scott was the only one who didn't wager his total balance, keeping $1 and winning the game. While many viewers might assume frequent competitor Ken Jennings won the most, they might be surprised.

Here's how the biggest winnings tallied up.

Ken Jennings

Ken Jennings is likely the most remembered of all the “Jeopardy!” contestants. This is partly because of how successful he was on the show as well as his current role as the host of the show.

Jennings started playing in 2004. His total winnings are $4,522,700, according to TV Insider. He also won the “Greatest of All Time” tournament to really cement him as one of the best contestants the show has ever seen.

According to TV Line, Jennings will wrap up his time as the host on Feb. 19. Then the executive producer of “Jeopardy!” Mike Richards will take over. Other upcoming guests will be Katie Couric, Aaron Rodgers, Bill Whitaker, Anderson Cooper and Mayim Bialik.

Jennings has taken every moment he could to honor the late Trebek. “Sharing this stage with Alex Trebek was one of the greatest honors of my life. Not many things in life are perfect, but Alex did this job pretty much perfectly for more than 36 years, and it was even better up close. We were dazzled by his intelligence, charm and grace,” he said during the first time he hosted.

The Contestant Is the Greatest of All Time

But “Jeopardy!” decided to bring Jennings, Holzhauer, and Rutter together to face off for the first time in early 2020. Trebek, who was battling cancer, hosted the “Greatest of All Time” championship. All three contestants battled for ultimate trivia supremacy.

While Holzhauer and Rutter put up a hard-fought match, the title was ultimately Jennings to win. When Trebek passed away last year, Jennings also became the first in a series of guest hosts on the game show. He honored his time filling in Trebek’s usual position with a tribute to the late game show host.

4 David Madden

David Madden made his first appearance on Jeopardy! back in July 2005 and had a continued winning streak through to September of that year, allowing him to hold the record for the fourth-longest streak in the show's history.

During his time on the game show, Madden has been able to earn a total of $773,733, putting his net worth at about $700,000. This also marks Madden as fourth when it comes to all-time winnings, falling behind only Ken, Brad, and James.

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James Holzhauer came $58,484 short of setting a “Jeopardy!” record after losing to Emma Boettcher, a librarian from Chicago.

Alex Trebek: Jay, we come to you first — you started slowly, but were coming on very strong in the Double Jeopardy round. You wound up at $11,000, which is pretty good, but in third place. And you came up with: Who is Marlowe? Christopher Marlowe. You are correct, sir. And you will add $6,000 — that bumps you up to $17,000. You’re hoping for bad things — incorrect responses from our champion and from Emma. Over to James, now. He had $23,400 and his response was correct. His wager: a modest one for the first time. That takes him to $24,799. So Emma, it’s up to you. If you came up with a correct response, you’re going to be the new “Jeopardy!” champion. Did you? You did. What did you wager? Oh gosh — $20,000 — what a payday! $46,801. What a game! Oh my God! What a way to start the week. Congratulations. We’re going to say goodbye to James, too. We’ll be seeing him again, folks. Take care. So long.

For weeks, the “Jeopardy!” phenomenon James Holzhauer had been unstoppable.

He set the record for the most money won in one episode, holds the second spot on the list, and the next 14 . Eleven times during his winning streak, he went a whole game without buzzing in incorrectly . For fans, the question was not whether he would surpass the $2.52 million Ken Jennings won during his record 74-game winning streak in 2004, but when.

In the prerecorded episode that aired on Monday, Holzhauer’s “Jeopardy!” reign came to an end with his 33rd game, a tantalizing $58,484 shy of Jennings’s mark . The number of the day turned out to be $22,002, the amount that separated him from the winner, a librarian from Chicago named Emma Boettcher.

The surprising end caused even the famously dispassionate host to practically lose his composure.

“What a game!” Alex Trebek exclaimed after Boettcher’s final score popped up. “Oh my gosh!”

Holzhauer walked over to give Boettcher a high-five.

“Nobody likes to lose,” Holzhauer said in an interview. “But I’m very proud of how I did, and I really exceeded my own expectations for the show. So I don’t feel bad about it.”

As he racked up wins, Holzhauer, a 34-year-old professional sports bettor who lives in Las Vegas, gained a celebrity status that, besides Jennings, few game show contestants ever reach. Clark County, Nev., declared a “James Holzhauer Day,” and he was given a ceremonial key to the Las Vegas Strip. A minor-league baseball team in upstate New York offered him a chance to work as its general manager (for a day). His success rubbed off on the show itself, which drew its best household ratings in 14 years, according to Nielsen.

Though he eventually lost, Holzhauer’s statistics will be tough to beat. During his streak he won an average of $77,000 per game, more than double Jennings’s rate. When he buzzed in, he got the right answer (that is, question) 97 percent of the time, according to the show. He almost always entered Final Jeopardy so far ahead that no one could catch him.

[Read more about Holzhauer’s childhood as a slacker with a gift for math.]

Trebek, who has continued to moderate the show despite living with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, said in a television interview in May that Holzhauer appeared to have no weaknesses as a player. It helped that Holzhauer was a beast with the buzzer, having practiced at home with a mechanical pencil.

Despite a workmanlike efficiency and a practiced smile that invited comparisons to cyborgs, Holzhauer allowed some charm to break through. He often calculated his Final Jeopardy wager so his total winnings for the game matched meaningful dates, like his 4-year-old daughter’s birthday. He also wrote greetings to his friends and family on his Final Jeopardy answer, a habit that other contestants picked up on the show eventually began enforcing an existing rule prohibiting such messages.

Online, he bantered with fans in a dryly humorous Twitter feed and even trash-talked with Jennings while knowing (but unable to reveal) that he would fall just shy of his record.

Jennings said on Monday that he learned about the end of Holzhauer’s streak when he attended a “Jeopardy!” taping in early April. The news was traveling around in the “Jeopardy!” community even before that, he said.

Jennings said the record he was more focused on was the number of consecutive wins, and Holzhauer wouldn’t have been able to break that for several weeks.

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“People don’t realize how fragile a ‘Jeopardy!’ streak is,” Jennings said. “Any night could be the game with your name on it. You just never know.”

Fans have been begging online for a matchup between Jennings and Holzhauer, and Jennings said it seemed “almost certain.”

“It’s going to happen at some point,” he added.

Holzhauer dominated the game with a strategy that made some commentators wonder whether he “broke the game” and was draining the show’s prize budget. (The show said he was not.)

Others proclaimed him to be an inspiration for investors, entrepreneurs and others who must take calculated risks.

Holzhauer went for all of the high-value questions first, hunted for the Daily Double items, and when he found them, bet all he had.

“A lot of the opponents have adjusted to the strategy,” he said in the interview, “but not all of them have had the guts to actually back it up with a big bet.”

Boettcher did. The 27-year-old University of Chicago librarian said in an interview that she had watched “Jeopardy!” religiously for years, playing along with a pen as a makeshift buzzer and documenting her scores in a notebook. For each row on the “Jeopardy!” board, Boettcher said, she had calculated the percentage of times she answered correctly. She did the same for the Daily Doubles.

“I knew going in that Daily Double hunting was something that I could do and feel confident doing,” she said. “I don’t need to be cautious around that.”

Holzhauer said that one turning point during the game was when he picked a clue worth $1,200 from a category about capitals that begin with “A.”


(In 1664 the English changed its name from Beverwyck to this to honor James, Duke of it.)

“The answer to this question occurred to me a second too late, so she was able to out-buzz me,” Holzhauer said. (What is Albany?)

The next clue Boettcher chose was a Daily Double, and Holzhauer said it was the same box he would have chosen next. Boettcher was behind at that point, so she wagered everything. And she got it right.

That’s when Boettcher thought to herself, “I’ve got a shot now.”

By the time the show reached Final Jeopardy, Boettcher was leading. Then, the final clue: The line “A great reckoning in a little room” in “As You Like It” is usually taken to refer to this author’s premature death.

Boettcher, who was an English major at Princeton, Holzhauer, and the third contestant, Jay Sexton, all answered correctly. (Who is Marlowe?)

“I lost to a really top-level competitor,” Holzhauer said. “She played a perfect game. And that was what it took to beat me.”

Adrian College professor's 'Jeopardy' streak ends with record

Her winning streak came to an end, but Adrian College history professor Stephanie Jass still became the answer to a bit of game show history. To put it into the form of a question, "Which female contestant won the most consecutive games on 'Jeopardy'?"

Her winning streak came to an end, but Adrian College history professor Stephanie Jass still became the answer to a bit of game show history.

To put it into the form of a question, "Which female contestant won the most consecutive games on 'Jeopardy'?"

Jass had won seven straight games going into the show aired Wednesday in which a wrong answer on the final question halted her streak. The final question read by host Alex Trebek was, "If it were a nation, a state with a two-word name in this country would be the world's sixth most-populous at 200 million."

The correct answer was the country India. (Its 200 million-resident state is Uttar Pradesh.) Jass had written Outer Mongolia.

"Here's what's really ironic," Jass wrote in an online post after the game ended. "After yesterday's game, I spent my time talking to Alex after the show about TRAVELLING TO INDIA! Sigh."

Jass had entered the final round leading with $16,400. In second-place at the time was Meredith Lowmaster of Quincy, Mass., with $9,000. Lowmaster, a medical research technician, wagered $7,000 and guessed India to give her $16,000. Jass' bet cost her $2,400 and she finished with $14,000 for second place.

Still, that gave the Milan resident an eight-game total of $161,570 and the female winning streak record. That includes the last game's $14,000, which is not officially counted as "winnings" but will be received by her, Jass explained.

Trebek had incorrectly stated during the previous game that seven straight wins had put Jass into a tie for the female record. Actually, the previous record had been just six wins by college student Larissa Kelly in 2008.

"At the time we were shooting, I thought that was wrong, but I didn't want to say that," Jass said Wednesday.

The all-time winning streak remains 74 games by Ken Jennings in 2004. Trebek did note during the game shown Wednesday that Jass was now among the show's top-10 for those having seven or more wins.

Jass reported that she might qualify for the "Jeopardy" Tournament of Champions, depending how other contestants fare later this season.

From the beginning, Wednesday's show was a struggle for Jass. Two missed questions put her at minus-$1,200 and she was behind by $1,800 at the first commercial break.

"Camp Arcadians won't believe that I missed WIGWAM!!" she tweeted Wednesday abut the show, which was played and recorded in August.

Jass then charged ahead for a lead of $6,400 to Lowmaster's $2,600 entering Double Jeopardy, where she managed to stay ahead of her rivals despite Lowmaster answering a daily double question. Along the way, Jass earned Trebek's compliment for her French pronunciation of one category. She also finished with the season's highest single-game win total so far ($30,570), earned during her second show.

Illinois woman's 'Jeopardy' winning streak comes to an end

LOS ANGELES – The reign of the winningest female contestant in "Jeopardy!" history has come to an end.

Julia Collins, 31, lost during her 21st appearance on the pre-taped episode that aired Monday. The Chicago-area resident accumulated a total of $428,100 during her 20 victories on the syndicated series.

Collins was vanquished by Brian Loughnane, an investment operations manager from Scituate, Massachusetts. Collins went into the final-question showdown in second place, bet everything and lost it. Loughnane won $22,000.

The clue that stumped her: The New England writer who in 1999 became the last person to win an Oscar for adapting his own novel as a screenplay. She failed to answer with the correct question: Who is John Irving? The novel and film was "Cider House Rules."

Monday's game overall "just didn't go my way," Collins said in a phone interview, adding, "I couldn't have loved being on the show more."

Collins said she was glad her record might serve as an example of female achievement.

"If it helps dispel the idea that women aren't as good 'Jeopardy!' players as men, that would be great," she said. "It's good to see women being applauded for being smart."

Her winnings helped finance a dream trip to Paris, where she rented an apartment for a month. Some may fund future travel adventures, Collins said.

The management consultant, who's been enjoying a hiatus thanks to "Jeopardy!", said she plans to get back into the work world.

The previous top female player for consecutive wins was Stephanie Jass, who took seven games in a row in season 29. Collins displaced her and Larissa Kelly, who was No. 1 in total winnings with $222,597.

Collins holds the No. 2 spot for most consecutive wins behind all-time "Jeopardy!" champ Ken Jennings. He won 74 straight games in season 21 for a total prize of $2.5 million.

She is the third-highest money winner for non-tournament play on "Jeopardy!" behind Jennings and Dave Madden, who won $430,400.

Future "Jeopardy!" contestants might want to consider her advice: Practice your buzzer technique so you can beat out your usually-knowledgeable competitors, and restrain yourself from guessing at answers.

"I was more relaxed than I thought I would be" when she first played, Collins said. "I thought I was going to have a little 'deer in the headlights' experience. . I tried not to put too much pressure on myself, not worrying about things I don't know. "

Collins will be back for the "Jeopardy!" tournament of champions next season.

'Jeopardy!' contestant ties for the 2nd longest winning streak in the show's history

James Holzhauer won his 20th game of "Jeopardy!" Wednesday, which means he now ties for the second-longest winning streak in the show's history.

Holzhauer won $101,682, bringing his 20-day total to $1,528,012.

The 34-year-old from Las Vegas now shares the second-longest winning streak title with Julia Collins, who one 20 games in 2014.

Ken Jennings holds the record of the longest streak, which lasted 74 games in 2004, according to the show's Hall of Fame .

The episode's final clue came from the King James Bible.

"Of the four riders mentioned in Revelation 6, only this one is explicitly named," the clue read.

The correct answer: "Who is Death?"

All of the contestants answered correctly, but fell short to Holzhauer's lead.

Holzhauer first made history after breaking the "Jeopardy!" record for single-day cash winnings on the show . Then he broke his own record.

Holzhauer credits part of his success to a controversial method he uses known as the "Forrest Bounce." The contestant jumps around from category to category, choosing tiles out of order to throw off his or her opponents.

1 Ken Jennings - $2,520,700

Even people who don't watch Jeopardy! have heard of Jennings and his season 21 supremacy. Despite the fact his long-running 74-game appearance was now over ten years ago, he is still the undisputed champion in Jeopardy's decades-long history. The mild-mannered Jennings, who now has his own website, is originally from Seattle, though he grew up overseas in Korea and Singapore, before moving back to the U.S. to attend the University of Washington. He eventually transferred to Brigham Young University after a two-year Mormon mission in Spain, to receive a double major in English and Computer Science. In his university years he captained his quiz bowl team, and eventually wrote and edited questions for the National Academic Quiz Tournaments. He was in Salt Lake City, working as a software engineer, when he got the call to appear on the show.

For the next six months, Ken appeared on TVs every night winning game, after game, after game and eventually solidifying himself as a TV hero. Although his breadth of knowledge seemed endless, on topics like, "Presidents By Kids," "Dumb Criminals," "Vikings," "The Art World," "Cycling," "TV Weapons," "Starbucks," and "Science and Nature," to name a few, his downfall came in the form of a rather banal clue about taxes. That Final Jeopardy! clue was: "Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year," and it stumped Jennings who eventually answered with, "What is Fed Ex?" His opponent, Nancy Zerg, gave the correct answer of "H&R Block." Jennings has said in interviews he wasn't all that shocked to have missed that one since he had always done his own taxes. After his legendary time on the show, Jennings went on to become a best-selling author with books including "Brainiac" - about trivia in American culture - and has amassed the biggest American trivia book ever assembled, aptly titled, "Ken Jennings's' Trivia Almanac."

Watch the video: Ken Jennings 74-Game Streak: Final, Final Jeopardy! Hu0026R Block. JEOPARDY!