Since the show removed the five-game win limit more than two decades ago, we’ve gotten to witness the evolution of the Jeopardy! “super champion.” If a contestant wins more than five games in a row, they’re dubbed a super champion and become eligible for the Tournament of Champions. So far on Jeopardy! this season, viewers have seen nine contestants reach these heights.
While this isn’t the highest number of super champs in one season (the 2014-2015 season saw 10), it does signify an interesting trend. No other season has seen such an astonishing number of wins per streak. Only 14 contestants total have won more than 10 games in the show’s 38-year history. Five of these champions were crowned just this season.
Amy Schneider is one of those super champs having won 40 games in a row earlier this year. Her streak came right off the heels of Matt Amodio winning 38 games weeks before her episodes began to air.
“People kept asking me about it during my run because of Matt,” Schneider said. “At the time, my feeling was it’s not really anything. It’s just a statistical fluke. But since then, it’s kept happening. And so that’s starting to feel like a less satisfying explanation to me.”
Are Jeopardy! Super Champs Becoming the New Normal?
These extensive win streaks used to be anomalies. But now, we’re seeing super champs become crowned on a regular basis. There certainly seems to be a trend since Ken Jennings went on his record-breaking 74-game streak. Streaks like his used to be anomalies. So what’s contributing to this run of huge winning streaks?
Schneider believes one possibility is the pandemic-related restrictions that were enforced in 2020 but have not yet been dropped. Mainly, the lack of a studio audience. She said some people feed off the energy of a crowd, but she also acknowledged feeling less pressure without family members in attendance.
As reported by The Washington Times, some suggest contestants have more resources than ever to help them prepare ahead of time. Some contestants have taken cues from James Holzhauer, who won 32 games in 2019 with a more aggressive approach to the game. Others have simply blamed the winning streaks on simpler answers. Something the show’s producers adamantly discredit.
Ryan Long is another recent Jeopardy! super champ. He believes this new trend merely comes from fans still feeling rattled by the death of Alex Trebek and the uncertainty of a new permanent host. Regardless, Long believes the spirit of the game remains no matter how many wins a single person achieves.
“Jeopardy! has been an institution in everybody’s lives,” Long said. “And now what they see is this cheapening of this thing they love, so people find ways to lash out. So I get why these comments come up, and I get the places they’re coming from, but at some point, you’ve got to let it go. At its core, it’s still Jeopardy!”