It takes a certain mind to be able to compete on Jeopardy!, but only the best of the best land in this winner’s circle. These are the highest-earning winners from the game show — and they’ve won millions.
Ken Jennings is one of the most well-known high rollers from the ABC series. The Washington-born author is actually the highest-earning American game show contestant of all time. In addition to winning $2,520,700 during his initial 74-show run on Jeopardy!, he nearly doubled that number in numerous special tournaments.
In 2005’s Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions, Jennings pulled in $500,000 for second place, and in 2014, he won a $100,000 second-place prize in the Jeopardy! Battle of the Decades. He returned to the winner’s circle in 2020 when he scored the $1 million first-place prize in the Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time. Those are just a few of his biggest tournaments.
Later that year, Matt Amodio entered the winners circle with a 37-game winning streak. The Ph.D. student from New Haven, Connecticut, is second only to Jennings for number of consecutive wins.
“Ken’s always been the face of Jeopardy! to me, so when I think of ‘Jeopardy!’ I think of him,” Amodio said in a press release in October 2021. “To [be] right behind him is a surreal experience.”
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Jennings was very supportive of his latest successor. “What a run!” he tweeted after the Yale student’s streak ended with his 38th game on the October 11, 2021, episode.
“Referring to #Jeopardy, ‘you are half the man Ken Jennings is’ is a great compliment,” Amodio replied via Twitter, singing his predecessor’s praises. “Referring to life in general, it’s an even greater one. Thanks for being you, Ken [heart emoji].”
Despite being one of Jeopardy!’s highest earners, Amodio revealed he doesn’t want to stop working as a researcher. “I still have no plans to spend a dime of my $1,518,601 winnings,” he wrote in an article for Newsweek days after his final episode aired. “I’m a frugal guy and I love having the opportunity to pack away a chunk of money should I need it in the future or to help out with kids.”
Amodio wasn’t the only history-making winner in 2021, though. Amy Schneider quickly became the sixth highest-earning contestant of all time on Jeopardy that December, and she out-earned all other female competitors with more than $700,000 in winnings.