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Ken Jennings
Kj.jpg
Name: Ken Jennings
Born: May 23, 1974
Occupation: Host, Contestant, Author
Years active: 2004-present
Known for: His appearances on Jeopardy!

Ken Jennings (also known as The Professor) (born on May 23, 1974) is a game show contestant and host. He is most notable for his record-setting streak of 74 wins on Jeopardy!. He then became the first and longest-running (at 6 weeks) of the guest hosts of the show following the death of Alex Trebek.

The streak[]

Before the 20th season premiere in 2003, champions had to retire after winning five games. To celebrate the show's 20th season, the producers changed that rule, allowing champions to continue playing until they were defeated.

On June 2, 2004, Ken Jennings's first episode aired. He won the game and proceeded to win all the remaining games during that season. By the end of Season 20, Jennings had accumulated 38 wins. In the process, he broke the single-day winnings record with a $75,000 score in the final game of Season 20.

Jennings returned to begin Season 21. He proceeded to win 36 more games. After the November 29, 2004 show, he had won 74 games for a total of $2,520,700.

  • Yellow is non-lock game, Red is eliminated(†: second place, ‡: third place).
Game No. Air Date Final score Cumulative Winnings Notes
1 June 2, 2004 $37,201 $37,201
2 June 3, 2004 $22,000 $59,201
3 June 4, 2004 $37,000 $96,201
4 June 7, 2004 $30,000 $126,201
5 June 8, 2004 $29,799 $156,000
6 June 9, 2004 $25,000 $181,000
7 June 10, 2004 $50,000 $231,000 Ken achieved a Coryat score of $39,200 in this game, which is the highest Coryat of all time.
8 June 11, 2004 $35,158 $266,158
9 June 14, 2004 $25,000 $291,158
10 June 15, 2004 $50,000 $341,158
11 June 16, 2004 $35,000 $376,158
12 June 17, 2004 $34,000 $410,158
13 June 18, 2004 $30,000 $440,158
14 June 21, 2004 $31,601 $471,759
15 June 22, 2004 $15,200 $486,959
16 June 23, 2004 $26,000 $512,959
17 June 24, 2004 $40,000 $552,959
18 June 25, 2004 $48,801 $601,760 Michael Cudahy’s $44,400 is currently the record for highest second place score until 2019. ironically, the record of Adam Levin’s $53,999 was set by James Holzhauer in his 18th game.
19 June 28, 2004 $21,000 $622,760
20 June 29, 2004 $40,000 $662,760
21 June 30, 2004 $35,000 $697,760
22 July 1, 2004 $40,000 $737,760
23 July 2, 2004 $17,600 $755,360
24 July 5, 2004 $19,600 $774,960
25 July 6, 2004 $14,000 $788,960
26 July 7, 2004 $40,000 $828,960
27 July 8, 2004 $40,000 $868,960
28 July 9, 2004 $52,000 $920,960
29 July 12, 2004 $52,000 $972,960
30 July 13, 2004 $32,000 $1,004,960
31 July 14, 2004 $17,500 $1,022,460
32 July 15, 2004 $28,000 $1,050,460
33 July 16, 2004 $50,000 $1,100,460
34 July 19, 2004 $35,000 $1,135,460
35 July 20, 2004 $29,200 $1,164,460
36 July 21, 2004 $30,000 $1,194,460
37 July 22, 2004 $52,000 $1,246,660
38 July 23, 2004 $75,000 $1,321,660 he sets a new one-day record.
39 September 6, 2004 $10,001 $1,331,661
40 September 7, 2004 $21,800 $1,353,461
41 September 8, 2004 $27,200 $1,380,461
42 September 9, 2004 $21,800 $1,402,461
43 September 10, 2004 $30,000 $1,432,461
44 September 13, 2004 $45,000 $1,477,461
45 September 14, 2004 $40,000 $1,517,461
46 September 15, 2004 $37,600 $1,555,061
47 September 16, 2004 $30,000 $1,585,061
48 September 17, 2004 $50,000 $1,635,061 After this win, he had to wait two weeks due to the 2004 Tournament of Champions.
49 October 4, 2004 $29,601 $1,664,462 he has a 28-game "lock" streak to break. (James has a 15 lock streak record).
50 October 5, 2004 $35,038 $1,699,700
51 October 6, 2004 $38,400 $1,738,100
52 October 7, 2004 $40,000 $1,778,100
53 October 8, 2004 $30,000 $1,808,100
54 October 11, 2004 $35,000 $1,843,100
55 October 12, 2004 $35,000 $1,878,100
56 October 13, 2004 $28,300 $1,906,400
57 October 14, 2004 $29,900 $1,936,300
58 October 15, 2004 $40,000 $1,976,300 After this win, he had to wait one week due to the 2004-B Kids Week.
59 October 25, 2004 $30,000 $2,006,300
60 October 26, 2004 $25,000 $2,031,300
61 October 27, 2004 $34,001 $2,065,301
62 October 28, 2004 $30,000 $2,095,301
63 October 29, 2004 $30,000 $2,125,301 he gets his tenth consecutive correct Final Jeopardy! response.
64 November 1, 2004 $26,600 $2,151,901
65 November 3, 2004 $45,099 $2,197,000 Ken breaks Kevin Olmstead's record for most money won on a television game show.
U.S. presidential election coverage bumped this game's airing by one day. Affiliates with no election coverage aired the "4,000th Episode" special (#4088) on 2004-11-02.
66 November 4, 2004 $50,000 $2,247,000
67 November 5, 2004 $25,600 $2,272,600
68 November 6, 2004 $33,201 $2,305,801 U.S. presidential election coverage on 2004-11-02 bumped airdates for games this week by one day, resulting in a Saturday airdate for an original episode.
69 November 8, 2004 $19,200 $2,325,001
70 November 9, 2004 $30,000 $2,355,001 After this win, he had to wait two weeks due to the 2004 College Championship.
71 November 24, 2004 $55,099 $2,410,100
72 November 25, 2004 $50,000 $2,460,100
73 November 26, 2004 $31,600 $2,491,700
74 November 29, 2004 $29,000 $2,520,700
75 November 30, 2004 $8,799† $2,522,700 Nancy Zerg ends his streak.

Spoilers before his last regular game[]

During a summer taping, reports from audience members claimed that Jennings had lost during a Season 21 show while trying for his 75th consecutive win.[1] These rumors circulated as the summer and fall of 2004 progressed. But, due to the official forum's no-spoiler policy, the rumor became known as "That Which Must Not Be Mentioned."

The original date for Jennings's loss was November 9, 2004. But, the show's producers tried to mitigate the effects of the spoiler. First, they dubbed out Johnny Gilbert's announcement of the number of games won during games 49 through 73. Second, the show interspersed special weeks into Jennings's run. But fans quickly adjusted, and it became known that "D-Day" would be November 30, 2004.

On November 26, 2004, a Georgia station accidentally aired the Final Jeopardy! round from Jennings's last regular game. Over the weekend, audio clips of that fateful Final Jeopardy! circulated over the internet.

On November 30, 2004, Ken Jennings led challenger Nancy Zerg by $14,400 to $10,000, but lost in Final Jeopardy!. Ken's other challenger, David Hankins, finished Double Jeopardy! at -$2,800 and received $1,000 in third place cash, but wasn't allowed to compete in Final Jeopardy!. The Final Jeopardy! answer in the category of BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY was the following: "Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only 4 months a year." Zerg correctly questioned, "What is H&R Block" and gained $4,401 to move to $14,401. Jennings, but mentioned "What is FedEx?" losing $5,601 and finishing in second place at $8,799. With the $2,000 second-place cash added to his total, he left with a total of $2,522,700.

Aftermath[]

  • On the December 1, 2004 episode of Jeopardy!, Jennings appeared at the beginning for a recap of the game show records he had broken or tied during his streak.
  • Jennings was also the central figure in a game show pilot for Comedy Central, Ken Jennings vs. the Rest of the World. But, that pilot wasn't picked up.
  • In 2006, Jennings was a member of the mob on 1 vs. 100. He was eliminated when he didn't know what color the number 1 was on a roulette wheel.
  • That same year, he hosted a Minnesota School Quiz show called Face-Off Minnesota.
  • Jennings was also the champion on another game show in 2007, Grand Slam. He won the $100,000 grand prize.
  • He also appeared on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? on October 10, 2008, winning $500,000. Had he gone for the Million Dollar Question, he would've won the million.
  • Ken appeared in a 2005 commercial for Allstate featuring actor Dennis Haysbert, proving to him how over 1 million drivers switched to Allstate last year with the question "Would a million people switch to Allstate if it was more expensive?", responding with "What is no way?"
  • He also appeared in a 2005 commercial for Cingular Wireless.
  • In 2005, University Games released "Can You Beat Ken?"
  • He won the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions' second-place prize of $500,000, the 2011 IBM challenge second-place prize of $300,000, and the 2014 Battle of the Decades Tournament of Champions second-place prize of $100,000, all three opposite Brad Rutter. His all-time earnings on Jeopardy! total $3,522,700.
  • On November 14 and 17, 2014, Ken Jennings walked away with $100,000 in Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.
  • Ken appeared as the first contestant on the season two premiere episode of 500 Questions, but didn't add anything to his total.
  • Ken appeared on GSN's 2019 Best Ever Trivia Show and its successor 2020 Master Minds as one of the regular "Trivia Experts."
  • He appeared in the 2019 All-Star Games and split the $300,000 second-place prize with teammates Matt Jackson (13-time winner from 2014) and Monica Thieu (2012 College Championship winner). As before, he was beaten by Brad Rutter, who split the $1 million top prize with teammates David Madden (19-time winner from 2005) and Larissa Kelly (6-time winner from 2008).
  • On January 14, 2020, Ken beat Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer in the primetime special Jeopardy: The Greatest of All Time, winning a million dollars. This put him back into the top spot of most money ever won on a game show, edging out Rutter by a mere $70,000.
  • On November 24, 2020, it was announced that Jennings would be one of the guest hosts of Jeopardy! following Alex's death; his first episode as guest host aired January 11, 2021, and his last one aired February 19, 2021.
  • He is co-hosting a revival of The Chase for ABC with Brad Rutter, James Holzhauer, and (as of season 2) Mark Labbett. His nickname is “The Professor.”

Trivia[]

  • After his Jeopardy regular games is done, his all-time high of $75,000 was later broken by Roger Craig at $77,000, and James later swept all ten of the top prize money lists. However, as of 2021, his best 74-win streak and highest Coryat score ($39,200) has been maintained for over 17 years, and the champion who came close to his regular-game earning record is James Holzhauer ($2,462,216), and the champion with the longest winning streak since his departure is Amy Schneider (39 wins, in progress).
  • After his defeat, the person who defeat ultrachamp (10+ times) cannot be repeated win unconditionally, and the second Final Jeopardy had a jinx with an unconditional incorrect answer. The jinx was later broken by Emma Boettcher (3 wins) who defeated James Holzhauer, and later reversed this jinx as Jonathan Fisher (11 wins) who defeated Matt Amodio became the long-term champion. However, the latter has not been broken yet.

Cumulative Total[]

Out of the totals Jennings won on Jeopardy!, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, 1 vs. 100, and Grand Slam, he has won an overall total of $5,223,414.

Gallery[]

Shows hosted[]

Shows appeared[]

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