Top 10 Jeopardy winners (2022)

Merv Griffin’s Jeopardy! is an American television game show. A quiz competition is included on the show, in which contestants are given general knowledge cues in the form of answers and must phrase their responses as questions. The first daytime edition of the show premiered on NBC on March 30, 1964, and ran until January 3, 1975. From September 1974 to September 1975, a syndicated nighttime edition aired weekly, and a weekday revival, The All-New Jeopardy!, aired on NBC from October 1978 to March 1979. On September 10, 1984, a syndicated show recognizable to modern audiences and produced daily (currently by Sony Pictures Television) debuted.

In this article, we take a look at the Top 10 Jeopardy winners.

Top 10 Jeopardy winners

  1. Ken Jennings – $2,520,700
  2. James Holzhauer – $2,462,216
  3. Matt Amodio – $1,518,601
  4. Amy Schneider – $1,382,800
  5. Jason Zuffranieri – $532,496
  6. David Madden – $430,400
  7. Julia Collins – $428,100
  8. Matt Jackson – $411,612
  9. Austin Rogers – $411,000
  10. Arthur Chu – $297,200

Have you ever fantasized about winning Jeopardy!, hearing the audience roar, feeling the warm glow of victory, and walking across the stage to shake the late Alex Trebek’s hand? For thousands of trivia buffs and game show hopefuls, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but it’s more than just bragging rights.

It may also come with a substantial monetary reward. Millions of dollars in prize money are awarded each year on America’s favorite quiz show, catapulting legendary champions to fame, fortune, and a life free of day jobs. Even for those who don’t win millions, the prize money from Jeopardy! has allowed champions to do everything from pay off student loans to travel the world.

Because “best” is a nebulous term in Jeopardy! Nation, we’ll define it as highest earnings in regular season play, excluding special events like The Tournament of Champions or The Greatest of All Time Tournament, for the sake of argument.

Continue reading for a complete list of top 10 Jeopardy winners.

1. Ken Jennings

Ken Jennings

Ken Jennings does not require an introduction. Jennings, then a software engineer in Salt Lake City, shattered the Jeopardy! record book in 2004 with an unprecedented 74-game winning streak, earning him $2,520,700.

Jennings’ winning streak captivated the nation, boosting Jeopardyratings !’s by 22% and making it the highest-rated syndicated television show in the country.

Jennings still retains the records for the longest winning run and the highest average of correct answers. His Jeopardy! wins (including tournament payouts) and other game show appearances have cemented his place in television history as the highest-earning contestant in American game show history.

Jennings put his gains toward “the three T’s”: taxes, tithe, and widescreen television (Jennings, a Mormon, practices tithing 10 percent of his yearly income to the Church of Latter Day Saints). Jennings, a longtime friend of the show who returned to face off against IBM supercomputer Watson and is still an occasional host, has had no truly post-Jeopardy! life.

2. James Holzhauer

James Holzhauer

Because of his background as a professional sports gambler, James Holzhauer came to Jeopardy! prepared to win. Holzhauer’s unusual skills and expertise in that line of business paid off: he gained $2,462,216 in a 32-game run in 2019, and he became recognized for his risky technique of playing practically everything he had in Final Jeopardy to double his money.

Holzhauer set a new record for maximum single-game profits of $131,127, becoming the first and only player to earn more than $100,000 in a single episode. Holzhauer, like Jennings, is still a part of the Jeopardy! universe, but he’s also a big player in the sports betting world, contributing to The Atlantic’s sports coverage.

3. Matt Amodio

Matt Amodio

Matt Amodio shot to national popularity in 2021 with a 38-game winning streak that earned him $1,518,601 in prize money and the prestigious title of third-highest-earning champion of all time.

Amodio, a Yale computer science PhD candidate, had the unique distinction of playing his way through a tumultuous chapter in Jeopardy! history in real time, weathering the storm of the Mike Richards controversy. Only Ken Jennings and Amy Schneider have won more games in a row than Amodio, who has 38.

4. Amy Schneider

Credit: Getty Images/Anna Moneymaker

The latest superstar champion on Jeopardy! tore up the record books. Amy Schneider, an engineering manager from California, won $1,382,800 in prize money after playing a total of 40 games. She’s the first woman and only the fourth Jeopardy! champion to win a million dollars in non-tournament play. She is now the highest-ranking female Jeopardy! contestant in history.

She’s also broken the winning streaks of Amodio and Holzauer, making her the second-longest streaker in Jeopardy! history. Schneider told CNN, “It’s been a true privilege.” “I don’t know how to digest the fact that I’m one of the most successful people in a game I’ve loved since I was a kid, and that I’m now a part of its history.”

5. Jason Zuffranieri

Jason Zuffranieri

Jason Zuffranieri, an Albuquerque math teacher, won $532,496 in 19 games in 2019, cementing his place in the Jeopardy! pantheon as the fourth highest-earning contestant of all time. With David Madden, he holds the fourth-longest victory streak (more on him below). For Zuffranieri, who auditioned for Jeopardy! nine times before making the show, the historic streak came after a long wait.

“For 25 years, my thinking was that I wasn’t intended to be on the program for whatever reason: I wasn’t clever enough, I wasn’t camera-friendly, I wasn’t interesting,” Zuffranieri said. “It was a dream come true to finally get a shot on that platform, and the kind of good fortune I received is genuinely above anything I ever imagined could happen.”

6. David Madden

David Madden

David Madden was born with a passion for trivia. Madden went on to develop the National History Bee and Bowl, two countrywide history events for students to participate as individuals and teams, following his 2005 hot streak as the fifth highest-earning contestant of all time (at $430,400).

Among other trivia events, Madden developed the US Geography Olympiad, the International Geography Olympiad, the US Academic Bee and Bowl, the National Science Bee, and the National Humanities Bee. Madden’s trivia prowess was channeled into politics in 2020, when he established Demoquiz, a platform that allowed Democratic candidates to fundraise through online quiz nights.

7. Julia Collins

Julia Collins

Julia Collins, an Illinois supply chain manager, set a record in 2014 when she won $428,100 in 20 straight races. She was the highest-ranked female participant of all time until Amy Schneider came up.

Collins utilized half of her windfall to go to Paris and London after her remarkable winning streak, and the rest to transition to a new job. Collins is now the founder of Females Like You and Me, a non-profit dedicated to “helping clever girls discover occupations they enjoy.”

8. Matt Jackson

Matt Jackson

Matt Jackson, a paralegal from Washington, D.C., joined Jeopardy! in 2015 with a long history of quiz bowl championships at Yale. Those years paid off in the form of an 11-game victory run that netted him $411,612.

Jackson, who is known for his lightning quickness on the buzzer, wowed spectators by counting his wins with his fingers during the on-camera introductions—until he ran out of fingers. Jackson contributed 10% of his profits to a variety of charity once his streak ended.

9. Austin Rogers

Austin Rogers

Austin Rogers’ sarcastic banter with Alex Trebek, as well as his 12-game winning streak, earned him a special place in the hearts of Jeopardy! fans. During his winning streak, Rogers became a viral hit thanks to his cheery manner and unusual sense of humor (dubbed “Krameresque” by some).

Rogers acquired a rare 1989 Honda Civic after his streak ended, traveled the world, and returned to his job as a New York City bartender. Rogers continues to bartend at The Gaf West, where he worked prior to Jeopardy!, and hosts trivia nights at other establishments.

10. Arthur Chu

Arthur Chu

During his 11-game streak in 2014, Arthur Chu, an insurance compliance analyst from Cleveland, Ohio, sparked a pop culture frenzy and earned $297,200.

Chu’s aggressive, game theory-fueled style of play, in which he hopscotched around the board looking for Daily Doubles rather than playing through each category in a linear fashion, outraged Jeopardy! Nation, which labeled him “smug,” “evil,” and “an emotionless villain.” Chu took pride in his Jeopardy! title. “I’m simply up there being a machine, playing the game,” says the villain.

As if he were a crazy person, he was mowing through the questions mechanically and with this detached mien. That isn’t my most appealing side.” Chu rose to prominence as a writer after winning Jeopardy!, speaking out against nerd culture and vehemently opposing the Gamergate movement.

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