Kenneth Wayne Jennings III is a television personality, author, and game show contestant from the United States. He is the highest-earning American game show contestant, having won money on five different game shows, including $4,522,700 on Jeopardy!, which he co-hosts with Mayim Bialik.
Jennings was born in Edmonds, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, on May 23, 1974.
Jennings spent 15 years of his childhood in South Korea and Singapore, where his father worked as an international lawyer.
Jennings returned to the United States and enrolled at the University of Washington. He transferred to Brigham Young University in 1996 after serving two years as a volunteer missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Madrid, Spain. At BYU, he shared a room with novelist Brandon Sanderson, who was also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He was also a member of the school’s quizbowl team, serving as captain at one point, and graduated with a double degree in English and computer science in 2000.
How much money did Ken Jennings win on Jeopardy!?
With 74 wins in a row, he holds the record for the longest winning streak on Jeopardy! He also has the highest average correct responses per game in Jeopardy! history (for contestants with at least 300 correct responses), with 35.9 during his original run (no other contestant has ever exceeded 30) and 33.1 overall, including tournaments and special events. In 2004, he won 74 consecutive Jeopardy! games before being defeated on his 75th appearance by challenger Nancy Zerg.
His total Jeopardy! earnings are $4,522,700, which include: $2,520,700 from 74 wins; a $2,000 second-place prize in his 75th appearance; and a $500,000 second-place prize in the Jeopardy! a $300,000 second-place prize in Jeopardy!’s IBM Challenge (2011), in which he lost to the Watson computer but became the first person to beat third-place finisher Brad Rutter; a $100,000 second-place prize in the Jeopardy!’s Battle of the Decades (2014); a $100,000 second-place prize (his share of his team’s $300,000 prize) in the Jeopardy!’s NBA All-Star Games(2019); and a $1 million first-place prize in Jeopardy! The All-Time Greatest (2020).
Jennings set the record for the most money won on an American game show during his first season on Jeopardy! Rutter, who defeated Jennings in the finals of the Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions, surpassed his total, adding $2 million to Rutter’s previous Jeopardy! winnings. Although Rutter retained the record for highest Jeopardy! winnings and once again passed Jennings’ total after his victory in the Jeopardy! Battle of the Decades tournament, Jennings regained the record after appearing on several other game shows, culminating with his results on an October 2008 appearance on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? In 2020, he faced off against Rutter and James Holzhauer in a special primetime series called Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time, which he won.
Jennings wrote about his experience on Jeopardy! and explored American trivia history and culture in his 2006 book Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs.
He signed on as a consulting producer for Jeopardy! in September 2020, which will include an on-air role reading categories.
After Alex Trebek’s passing on November 8, 2020, Jennings became the first of a succession of guest hosts on Jeopardy! From January 11, 2021, to February 19, 2021, his programs aired. Following Mike Richards’ departure early in the 2021–22 season, Jennings and Mayim Bialik were both named hosts; Jennings’ responsibilities are limited to the daily syndicated series, while Bialik’s responsibilities include primetime network specials and syndicated series episodes.