“Jeopardy!” contestant and guest host Ken Jennings was sensational when he appeared on the game show back in the early 2000s. For a period of longer than any contestant, Jennings couldn’t be beaten. The contestant turned “Jeopardy!” into something of a spectacle as viewers wondered how long he could go.
Well, Jennings’ record ended up being a 74-game winning streak. Not bad considering many contestants don’t end up lasting the episode. In fact, Jennings is currently the greatest contestant ever to appear on the show. Contestant James Holzhauer had the next closest streak, and he doesn’t even get close to Jennings’ record. Holzhauer only won 32 games. During his streak, Jennings took home $2.52 million. And who says knowledge doesn’t pay?
But even the longest of streaks must eventually end. Jennings closed out his impressive run when he missed a Final Jeopardy and came in second place. Host Alex Trebek congratulated the young contestant and believed he set a record that would never be broken.
“All good things have to come to an end, don’t they?” Trebek told him. The host was speaking of Jennings’ run. But his words hit a little harder now that Trebek has passed away. “Too bad for Ken, but he’s going home with a lot of money.”
For his part, Jennings thanked “Jeopardy!” and Trebek for making his dreams come true.
“It’s been a great time. It’s the kind of thing that only comes once in a lifetime,” Jennings said. “And I just try to enjoy every minute of it. I really have had a happy life. And I hope nothing changes. I just want to stay the same person that I am despite it all.”
Ken Jennings Is the Greatest of All Time
Of course, this story of triumph has an epilogue. In early 2020, Jennings established himself as the “Greatest of All Time” competing against Holzhauer and Brad Rutter for the title. Holzhauer in many ways came gunning for Jennings’ record in 2019. The contestant attacked the board and placed large bets, making him entertaining to watch.
But more importantly, Jennings realized this may be the last time he played the game with Trebek as the host.
“I had this sudden epiphany where I realized, ‘If this is going to be your last time playing ‘Jeopardy!’ just go enjoy it. It’s certainly going to be your last time playing with Alex (Trebek) there. Just enjoy every minute,’” Jennings told the Deseret News. “I kind of went out on that stage with that goal in mind, just to really have a good time.”
Jennings ultimately won the title after a hard-fought tournament. In recent months, the contestant has transitioned to guest host, filling in Trebek’s iconic spot.