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- “Jeopardy!” is a game show watched by millions of people in the US. It first aired in 1964.
- Brad Rutter is the highest-earning contestant on “Jeopardy!” ever, with a whopping net earning of around $4.3 million.
- James Holzhauer was the last “Jeopardy!” contestant to pass the $1-million winning mark, but lost after a 32-day streak, ending his reign with $2,462,216.
James Holzhauer, the professional gambler from Las Vegas whose high-risk moves on “Jeopardy!” drew national attention, ended his winning streak on his 32nd day. Over the course of his tenure, Holzhauer earned $2,462,216. Fans had been speculating when Holzhauer would overtake Ken Jennings’ record of highest-winnings during regular-season play, but ultimately the gambler fell short by $58,484. Jennings earned $2,520,700 after 74 consecutive wins, but Holzhauer’s high-rolling strategy helped him come close to Jennings’ record in half the time.
“If you don’t take a risk like that, you’re not going to win,” Holzhauer told The New York Times. “Really, the big risk is never trying anything that looks like a big gamble.”
Brad Rutter is currently the highest-earning “Jeopardy!” winner, having made over $4 million on the show.
Keep scrolling to see some of the show’s biggest winners.
Dan Pawson: $420,902
Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, legislative aide Dan Pawson won the Tournament of Champions in 2009, taking home $250,000. Previously, a nine-day streak earned him over $170,902, totaling his lifetime winnings to $420,902. He later competed in the 2014 Battle of the Decades.
According to The University of Chicago Chronicle, Pawson came from behind in the Tournament of Champions, by correctly answering a question on British royalty that the game leader got wrong: “Born in 1683, the second British king of this name was the last one not born in the British isles.” (Correct answer: “What is George?”)
Ben Ingram: $426,534
South Carolina IT consultant Ben Ingram surprised viewers when he won the 2005 Tournament of Champions for $250,000, beating popular contestants Arthur Chu and Julia Collins.
David Madden: $432,400
Art historian David Madden had a 19-day streak, the second-longest winning streak in “Jeopardy!” until he was beat by Julia Collins, in 2014.
The founder of the National and International History Bee and Bowl made $432,400 over 19 consecutive wins in 2005.
Julia Collins: $478,100
Julia Collins, who majored in art and history, boasts the second-longest winning streak, after Ken Jennings’, with a 20-game streak that netted her $428,100. Third place at the Tournament of Champions netted her another $50,000.
Jerome Vered: $499,102
Vered, a screenwriter from California, was an undefeated five-time champion in 1992, holding the record for one-day winnings for years, with $34,000. He won $96,801 as the undefeated five-time champion that year.
He went on to compete in the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions, coming in 3rd place and winning $250,000, after he was crushed by Ben Rutter and Ken Jennings.
In total, he has won $499,102.
Matt Jackson: $511,612
Jackson, a then 23-year-old D.C. paralegal, boasts a 13-game streak that earned him $411,612. The 2015 Tournament of Champions earned him another $100,000, meaning he has won $511,612 from “Jeopardy!”
Viewers probably remember Jackson for his smile, and his shouting of “boom!” throughout the games.
Jackson used Ken Jennings’ book “Braniac” as part of his preparation for the show.
Roger Craig: $530,200
- Courtesy of Jeopardy! Productions, Inc.
A five-game streak earned him $195,801. In total, he has won $530,200.
According to NPR, he “Moneyballed” the tournament: “Using data-mining and text-clustering techniques, Craig grouped questions by category to figure out which topics were statistically common – and which weren’t.”
James Holzhauer: $2,462,216.
- Jeopardy Productions
James Holzhauer, a professional gambler from Las Vegas, used his quick buzzer skills and fondness for making big risks to rake in over $2.46 million during a 32-game winning streak. During his run, “Jeopardy!” said he was “redefining the standard of excellence for Jeopardy! champions.”
Holzhauer holds the top 10 records for Single-Game Winnings. In order to win big, the professional gambler started off games by beginning with the highest-value clues in hopes of scoring a “Daily Double” clue in which he would bet all of his earnings. Doing so allowed him to make up any losses during the remainder of the game.
Ken Jennings: $3,270,700
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Ken Jennings is arguably the most famous “Jeopardy!” contestant in the show’s history, as he holds the record for the longest winning streak, with a 74-game streak in 2004. In total, he has won $3,270,700 in prize money.
He has also appeared on “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” and “Grand Slam.”
Brad Rutter: $4,385,702
Brad Rutter is the highest earning contestant on “Jeopardy!” ever: he’s made around $4,385,702 over 14 years.
His first, five-day streak earned him $55,102, but winning the Tournament of Champions ($250k), the Ultimate Tournament of Champions ($2 million), the Masters Tournament ($1 million), and the Battle of the Decades ($1 million) bumped his earnings significantly.
Rutter first appeared on “Jeopardy!” when he was only 22 years old, in 2000. Rutter defeated Ken Jennings in three tournaments, and, in fact has never been defeated by a human (only by the IBM super-computer Watson in 2011, and that was in exhibition match).
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