'Jeopardy!' contestant breaks Ken Jennings' one-day winnings record

Step aside, Ken Jennings. Your reign as Jeopardy‘s highest one-day earner has been usurped! There’s a new sheriff quiz show genius in town. He goes by the name Roger Craig, and on last night’s episode, he took home $77,000, bringing his two-day total to $114,000.

KenJen made a name for himself when he won 74 episodes of Jeopardy! and took home a grand total of $2.52 million back in 2004. Adding onto his feats, Jennings also scored the highest-ever one-day total during his tenure on the show. Since then, no one has been able to topple the trivia king’s record or fame for that matter. (Can you name any other famous Jeopardy! contestants? I didn’t think so.) But all that changed yesterday when Craig, a University of Delaware graduate student, wagered $30,000 on the final Jeopardy category “Literary and Movie Title Objects.” The clue that changed it all: “The inspiration for this title object in a novel and a 1957 movie actually spanned the Mae Khlung River.” And with Craig’s correct response — “What is The Bridge on the River Kwai?” — he made game show history.

We don’t yet know if Craig will outlast the other challengers for 72 more episodes, but we do know he’s now the second most famous contestant to come out of Jeopardy! What do you think, PopWatchers? Does this guy have a chance of breaking KenJen’s other Jeopardy! records? Or are his consecutive wins just a fluke?

Read more:
‘Jeopardy!’ celebrates its 6,000th episode

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  • Geek

    That’s pretty impressive. But I still love Ken Jennings the best and I hope all of his other Jeopardy! records stand forever. :)

    • Geek

      Also, yes I can name another famous Jeopardy! champ… Frank Spangenberg, NYPD.

      • Sue

        I love Frank Spangenberg! (His was the other name that came to me first.) My dad and I watched his run when I was in high school and were big fans.

  • Becky

    Awesome – I was curious about what the biggest one-day total was when I was watching last night. Roger is *very* impressive…

  • Jus’ sayin

    Wouldn’t it be fun to have another great champ!?!? And he seems like a nice guy!

    (I’ve always liked and remembered Frank Spangenberg too.)

  • erak

    While Ken Jennings has the longest win streak, I think the best Jeopardy player of all time is Brad Rutter.

    He went undefeated back when there was a 5-game limit, and has won every tournament he has appeared in since (Tournament of Champions, Million Dollar Masters and Ultimate Tournament of Champions).

    In fact, he was pitted against Jennings in the 3-day finals of the Ultimate Tournament and absolutely crushed him.

    To date, Rutter holds the record for most winnings on Jeopardy with $3,255,102. (Granted, $2,000,000 of that was from the Ultimate Tournament. Jennings got $500,000 for second place.)

    • mark

      Brad is great but I disagree as winning 74 straight games is so hard that I doubt brad would have done it. Ken won 2.5 million dollars having only the amount of money earned and had to win it. Brad earned $55000 in regular play but only had half the values so equivalent is $110,000 Ken in his frist 5 games earned $156,000 but doubling and taking what is called a Koryat score (taking the values of all the correct and incorrect responses using only the actual values and neglecting how much is wagered on daily doubles) at end of FJ only. Ken had a coryat score of like $28,000 in first 5 games, $27,500 in 74 Brad’s using doublind was $22,000 in his first 5 games. Brad won 1 million and 2 million respectivelyh having to only play in a combined 15 games which gives him 20 total. he won them but he did not earn any spectacular amount in these tourneys. in the ultimate champions tournament, Ken had a bye to the finals. he had zero chance to get into a groove. Brad had 3 or 4 rounds of playing already and so Ken was at a disadvantage by playing against someone who never even had the chance to even play in a single tournament game ever period. he played the top 2 other best winners of the top 145 jeopardy players ever and came in 2nd with no practice and a flu. Plus who knows if he didn’t puroposely come in 2nd. you neve rknow. against Watson, Ken did beat Brad in that tournament but it doesn’t count but he did in fact beat him and came very close to beating the computer, just missed on day 2.

  • RyRyNYC

    Seeing as how Ken Jennings made nightly new casts and is synonymous with Jeopardy as much a Trebeck, I think this guy has a long way to go…

  • S.O.

    very smart guy. but the 2nd place guy (as it seems in almost every other episode of Jeopardy!) looked like his buzzer wasn’t working as he tried to question nearly every answer that came up. The young woman in 3rd was hardly even present as she was under $0 & only guessed 5 answers.

    • Babs

      His buzzer was working. He just hadn’t learned you have to finesse it, not jam it repeatedly. Half the winning of Jeopardy is finessing the buzzer.

      • orville

        No, actually you’re supposed to click it repeatedly. I’ve auditioned many times and each and every time that’s how we’re instructed to use the buzzer. The finesse comes in being able to wait until the lights at the sides of the screen go off–then you’re allowed to buzz in.

  • Winston

    Nice to see he wasn’t content to rest on his Super Bowl winning laurels and set out to prove himself in another arena.

  • Chris

    Really? Second most famous? I’d put Frank Spangenberg, Eddie Timanus, and Chuck Forrest about 20 levels above Roger Craig.

    Besides, there are a few otherwise famous people who were champions before they became famous, such as John McCain, journalist Jack Ford, NPR host Peter Sagal, former “Daily Show” executive producer David Javerbaum, and “Avatar” actor Dileep Rao.

    • Mr. Holloway

      …and former disco queen Gloria Clemente (“White Men Can’t Jump”), and Cliff Claven (almost).

      • JV

        “Foods that begin with Q”

  • FLGRL

    What an easy final Jeopardy question! Come on!

    • Dawn

      My thoughts exactly!!

  • Sarah

    Not a fluke. I knew Craig in high school and we were saying then that he’d be a Jeopardy champion some day. He’s a genius!

  • Glenn Nichols

    I live in Newark, De. Way to go Roger!!! Keep it up!

  • mark

    Roger is a fantastic player but Ken kicks his butt.
    so he got $2000 more, but big deal. Ken Jennings had about $52000 going in and could have safely bet without losing even if getting it wrong enough to win $100,000. Ken also had 5 other opportunites to have gotten more easily but he was graceful enough to not want to beat, only tie the old one day record, accept this time he was only a few dollars away from it he figured he may as well beat it this time.

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