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    15 Facts About The "Jeopardy!: The Greatest Of All Time" Tournament Contestants

    James Holzhauer holds the top 16 records for single-game winnings.

    It's finally here! The massive, primetime Jeopardy! The Greatest Of All Time tournament event kicks off tonight.

    Eric Mccandless / Getty Images

    It's an epic battle between three all-time greats — James Holzhauer, Brad Rutter, and Ken Jennings.

    Eric Mccandless / Getty Images

    The tournament is a best-of-seven format, with the top prize set at $1 million. The runners-up will each take home $250k.

    Here's everything you need to know about the big three:

    CONTESTANT #1: Brad Rutter

    Eric Mccandless / Getty Images

    Total Jeopardy! Winnings: $4,688,436

    Jeopardy! streak: 5 days (*with a huge caveat that the rules were different when he played, but more on that later.)

    1. Of the three contestants, Brad Rutter had the earliest run — his first appearance began on October 30, 2000, when he was just 21 years old.

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    2. Brad's winnings from his original run totaled just $55,102 (and a car) — he retired as an undefeated champion with a guaranteed spot in the Tournament of Champions.

    “I was first on the show in 2000, when they made you retire after five games and come back for the Tournament of Champions. Then I won that, and kept getting invited back to these all-star tournaments....”

    When Brad played the game, the rules said that if a contestant won five consecutive days, they had to retire undefeated. This rule was (obviously) changed in 2003, before the Ken Jennings era.

    3. Due to his winnings from special tournaments, Brad is actually the highest-earning Jeopardy! contestant of all time: He's made more than $4.7 million from the show. (This also makes him the highest-earning American game show contestant.)


    Over the years, he's competed in the following Jeopardy! events: Tournament of Champions, IBM Challenge, All-Star Games, Million Dollar Masters, Battle of the Decades, and Ultimate Tournament of Champions.

    4. In 21 regular season and tournament games, Brad has never lost a Jeopardy! game to a human being.

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    Both Brad and Ken played (and lost) a three-day match against an IBM computer called Watson — Brad came in third place, but since the match was an "exhibition," it doesn't count toward his official show stats. Ken is (leading into the GOAT tournament) still the only human to do better than Brad in a game of Jeopardy!

    5. After his run, Brad moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actor, producer and TV host.


    He also hosted a local quiz show for teens called InQuizitive until 2007.

    CONTESTANT #2: Ken Jennings

    Eric Mccandless / Getty Images

    Total Jeopardy! Winnings: $3,370,700

    Jeopardy! streak: 74 games

    6. In 2004, Ken Jennings famously won 74 consecutive games of Jeopardy! and won more than $2.5 million from that streak alone.

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    He ultimately lost to a challenger named Nancy Zerg, who only won that one match — but it was a doozy.

    7. Since the rules for consecutive streaks only changed in 2003, the longest streak prior to Ken Jennings' was eight games — by Tom Walsh, who won $186,900 in January 2004.

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    8. Even though Brad passed Ken in all-time winnings, Ken still holds the record for highest winnings in regular-season play as well as consecutive games won.

    Jeopardy / Via

    In fact, James's epic 32-game streak isn't even half the length of Ken's, and he's the only person who has come close.

    9. Ken's historic run was a huge ratings hit for the show — according to the Nielsen ratings, it was 22% higher during Ken's run than the same period the year before.

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    10. Before the show, Ken was a computer programmer, but "not a very good one or happy one," and now he's a full-time writer.


    He has also appeared on several game shows, including 1 vs. 100, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, and Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?

    CONTESTANT #3: James Holzhauer

    Eric Mccandless / Getty Images

    Total Jeopardy! winnings: $2,712,216

    Jeopardy! streak: 32 games

    11. After his 32-game run, which happened just last year, James — a professional sports gambler who changed the game with his aggressive strategy — holds the top 16 records (!!!!!) for highest earnings in a single day.

    Jeopardy / Via

    12. James's accuracy rate (i.e. percentage of questions he answered correctly) was 97% during his historic run.

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    13. James is also the fastest to reach $1 million in Jeopardy! history — he and Ken are the only two contestants to do it in regular-season play. It took James 14 games, while it took Ken 30 games.

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    14. James's final episode had 14.5 million viewers — it was the highest-rated episode since Ken's final episode and became the third most-watched episode of a running series in 2018-2019.

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    James ultimately lost to Emma Boettcher, who went on to win three games. They met again in the Tournament of Champions, which James won.

    15. The Greatest of All Time tournament will be the first time either Brad or Ken face James.


    And I can't wait to see it.

    And, before we go, here's a sweet reminder of who the ultimate GOAT is:

    Srsly tho everybody knows the real @Jeopardy GOAT is the guy in the top half of the frame.

    Tune in to the Jeopardy! The Greatest Of All Time tournament starting tonight on ABC at 8/7c. I can't wait to see who wins it all!

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