‘Jeopardy!’: How Did Ken Jennings Hone His Trivia Skills?

by Keeli Parkey
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Ken Jennings had one of the most famous runs on “Jeopardy!” in the history of the show. His success on the popular quiz show made him famous and it made him a millionaire.

But, have you ever wondered what Jennings did to prepare himself to win more than 70 episodes of “Jeopardy!”? Well, he has shared a few details about what made him a success on the show on his website.

Jennings’ journey to legendary “Jeopardy!” champion started in an unexpected place. According to the “About Ken” section of his website, he was born near Seattle, Washington, in 1974. However, his younger years were spent living in Singapore and in Korea. The family moved to those locations for 15 years so his father could pursue his legal career.

While living overseas, Ken Jennings got his dose of American culture by watching the Armed Forces Network. So, what show did he watch on a very regular basis? You guessed it – “Jeopardy!” He watched the show after he came home from school. Turns out, he was getting an education after spending the day getting his education.

Flash forward a few years. Ken Jennings comes back to the United States to go to college. He started out at the University of Washington, then he decided to move to Brigham Young University in 1996. Interestingly, he lived in Madrid, Spain, for two years as part of his Mormon mission.

‘Jeopardy!’ Champion Wrote Questions for National Academic Quiz Tournaments

During his years at BYU, Ken Jennings was able to put his love for quiz shows into practice. Not only did he serve as the school’s quiz bowl team, but he also created questions for National Academic Quiz Tournaments. And, he served as an editor of questions for the tournaments. Jennings graduated from BYU in 2000. He chose to major in both computer science and English while there, according to his website.

Thanks to his work with the National Academic Quiz Tournament, the future “Jeopardy!” champion was familiar with several individuals who competed on television quiz shows. Among these shows was “Was Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” And, Jennings reportedly saw how his friends used their winnings to pay off the debt they had from college. Or, how they bought items they might not have had they not won prize money on a quiz show.

Unsurprisingly, Ken Jennings thought of “Jeopardy!” as the show where he should compete. He had loved the show as a youngster, after all.

According to his website, Jennings learned in 2004 that he had been chosen to compete on “Jeopardy!” His appearance took place during June 2004. Before he appeared on the show, he studied for several weeks. He used flashcards to prepare, according to his website. And, he focused on subjects often used on the show. These included world capitals, “potent potables,” and U.S. presidents.

As fans of the show know, Ken Jennings won 74 consecutive episodes. He was on the show until November of that year.

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