Jeopardy fans everywhere, rejoice! We have put together a list of 35 fun and revealing behind-the-scenes facts about the hit show. All of your itching questions will finally be answered!
Rules Are Rules
Although the host Alex Trebek may appear to be super friendly to contestants on screen, looks can be deceiving. Trebek is indeed charming to all, but he is very serious, and means business. Ex-contestants have spoken out and revealed that they can only speak to him when cameras are rolling. Don’t except any dressing room chit-chat!
Can you believe that on a weekly basis over 25 million people tune in to Jeopardy! Yep, you read that right! Not only is it one of America’s most popular game shows, but it also has the awards to back it up. Over the course of its existence, Jeopardy! has won 33 Daytime Emmy Awards.
Ever heard of Kenneth Wayne Jennings? Well, get to know him if you haven’t! This guy is Jeopardy! royalty! Not only does he hold the record for the show’s longest winning streak, but he is also the 2nd highest-earning contestant in game show history! In 2004, the software engineer won 74 Jeopardy! games straight, leaving with a whopping $3,196,300!
Brad Rutter on the other hand, is no loser either! This guy holds the title for the highest-earning Jeopardy! contestant ever! Brad competed in 19 seasons and tournaments, and has never lost to a human. A robot on the other hand, has him beat.
The show’s producers (and the fans) enjoy having celebrities compete. Since Jeopardy!‘s debut in the 1960’s, over 200 celebrities have been on the show. Anderson Cooper, Ashton Kutcher, Jane Seymour, Nathan Lane, Jodie Foster and Lara Logan are just a few of the familiar faces.
Advice From The Pros
It isn’t unusual for ex-contestants to take to social media and give others the inside scoop on their experience on the show. Every single player claims that the best way to practice is to spend hours on end watching reruns of the show. It isn’t rare for hopefuls to spend weeks, or even months memorizing flashcards, all the way from Literature to Geography.
Taxes, Taxes, Taxes
Many fans don’t know this, but the winners don’t walk away from the show with cash in their hands. It isn’t rare for months to go by before receiving payment. A previous winner secretly told sources that he didn’t get paid for 6 whole months. To make matters worse, he won $27,100, but after taxes, he only received $20,000.
The Real MVP
Often, when people think of Jeopardy!, they also think of the show’s host, Alex Trebek. This man is the face of Jeopardy! Did you know that his real name is Giorgi Suka-Alex Trebek? Oh, and we bet you weren’t informed that he speaks 17 languages!
When Trebek isn’t filming Jeopardy!, you can find him surrounded by horses. He loves the animals so much that he bought a horse farm! He owns and manages Creston Farms, a 700-acre ranch. He and his staff breed thoroughbred horses, many of whom go on to be race horses.
On A World Level
Jeopardy! first aired in the year 1964. Since the very first episode, the show has become an enterprise, and a worldwide pop-culture phenomenon. Not only is it popular in the United States, but also across the world. 30 countries around the globe have adapted the show…quite impressive for the original writers and producers! Argentina, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Hungary, Japan and Estonia are just six of the numerous countries where you can see the beloved show Live.
Currently, the highest single-day winning total is $77,000, set by Roger Craig on September 14th, 2010. Roger broke the previous record by a mere $2,000, set by Ken Jennings just a few years prior.
Familiar with the Jeopardy! theme song? It was created by Merv Griffin and is called “Think!”. Griffin claims it only took him 30 seconds to write. Pretty amazing when you think of the fact that he receives a sum of money every time the song is played! His net-worth from the hit tune is over $100 million thus far!
Only die-hard Jeopardy! fans know that an entire week’s worth of episodes are filmed in just one day. Don’t worry if you were in the dark…we were too! The contestants, and the host, have to change into 5 different outfits throughout filming. This creates the illusion of time passing…pretty smart! Alex Trebek has told fans that he owns over 100 suits for this very reason!
Contestants on Jeopardy! go through a world-wind of tests before being chosen for the show. First, there is an online test that is required in order to apply. Can you believe that over 300,000 people take it each year?! Staff claim that only around 100,000 actually complete the test in the given time, and only 3,000 are invited into the studio for a Live audition. Pretty competitive to say the least!
Oh, and we didn’t mention…you can’t decide today to take the test, and actually take it. There is a year long wait list just to take the test! The exam consists of 50 random questions, and they need to be answered within 15 minutes, a 15 second timeclock for each question. As you may assume, out of all of the people who apply, only a mere 0.4% are accepted. You have more of a chance of writing a New York Times bestseller than you do appearing on the show.
So who comes up with all of the questions the contestants answer? Believe it or not, the show has a team of only 14 people, 9 writers, and 5 researchers. This all-star team comes up with all of the content for the show on their own.
This proves that betting high is not always the answer, there is more skill involved than people might imagine. Air Force lieutenant Daryl Scott won on January 19, 1993 by only $1. The shock on all three of their faces says it all.
Did you know that the Canadian-born star Alex Trebek is quite well-known because of the show Jeopardy!? He holds a legendary Guinness Book Of World Record‘s title for “most game show episodes hosted by the same presenter”. He has hosted 6,829 consecutive episodes of Jeopardy!
A Philanthropic Show
If you love the show, you’ll like it even more after you hear this fact. Jeopardy! makes it a point to give back to those who need it most. All of the winnings from the celebrity tournaments go to different charities. Since celebs began their appearances on the show in 1992, more than $9 million has been raised.
Computer Vs. Man
The two most successful contestants to step foot on the show were pitted up against a computer. Now let’s see who’s boss! A two-day tournament kept viewers on the edge of their seats…who would win? After hours of clenched white knuckles, the computer, AKA Watson, came out victorious.
Where Are Your Pants?
Those who know Alex Trebek know how funny the guy is. The charismatic and equally humorous host showed up to work one day pants-less! On none other than April Fool’s day, the prank was aired. The contestants on this particular episode were super nervous, so Trebek felt this would calm their nerves a bit…how caring!
Brad Rutter became Jeopardy!’s ultimate legend after appearing on the show from 2000 until 2014. Throughout his 14 years on the show, he racked up a whopping $4,455,102. Pretty good for a college dropout…or anyone for that matter!
The show puts a lot of effort into choosing fun, interesting contestants who will appeal to the audience. They definitely picked a winner when they chose Austin Rogers! This NY bartender only walked away with $50,000, but he got something so much better! His quirkiness and sarcastic sense of humor won over the audience and he left Jeopardy! as the most-loved contestant!
Timing Is Key
Ex-contestants always claim that the most difficult part of the show is not the questions themselves, but the buzzer! If a contestant presses the buzzer too early, as say Alex Trebek is still introducing the question, it is disabled for one-quarter of a second. Might not sound like a lot, but when milliseconds matter, literally every second counts! Getting the timer right is just as crucial as getting your answers right…who knew!
Ken Jennings, the winner of 74 consecutive matches, let viewers and fans in on a surprising details none of us never could have ever guessed! Ken revealed that behind each podium is a black tile that either rises or lowers based on the contestant’s height. The key is to have everyone on an equal playing field…literally!
Appearing on Jeopardy! is a lifelong dream for many. Don’t be surprised, but many people prepare for their moment of fame for years! We wonder if there’s an exclusive club for contestants; we must admit…they are game show royalty!
Can you believe that the show’s buzzer system ISN’T automatic?! Yep, it’s 2018 and there is still a person sitting in a control room, in charge of each contestant’s buzzer.
If you watch the show, you are familiar with the fact that some questions are accompanied by videos. Jeopardy!’s ‘Clue Club’ is made up of a group of reporters who travel around the world filming the show’s video clues. Can you believe that they’ve been to over 280 cities in 44 different countries?! Where can we sign up??
Eddie Timanus is truly an amazing and inspiring individual. The 50-year-old Missouri native made history as the first blind contestant featured on the show. Instead of using the big screen to see category headings, he used braille cards, and instead of typing his responses on a keyboard, he used a keyboard. If this isn’t amazing in itself, he was also one of Jeopardy!‘s most successful contestants! Not only did his 5-day streak end in $90,000, but he also found love on the show! He met his wife after she watched him on the show…what a story!
Can you imagine your Jeopardy! debut ending in a tie? Neither could these three contestants! In 2007, Jeopardy! history was made when three contestants tied. They all finished with $16,000 and they all returned the following day for another shot.
One contestant in particular on Teen Jeopardy! did not win the audience over…actually quite the opposite! Leonard Cooper proved to be very off-hand and arrogant. His final clue was; “On June 6, 1944, he said, ‘The eyes of the world are upon you.’” Leonard bet $0, and his response was; “Who is some guy in Normandy, but I just won $75,000!”. The audience was less than impressed.
What Was That?
Ever wonder why all of the contestants’ writing looks like a 5-year-old’s? Famous contestant Ken Jennings answered our question replying, “It’s like writing with an icicle on glass.” Apparently, the screen the contestants write their answers on is comically small, and the pen, weirdly large! This, and the fact that they are under time pressure, explains it all.
Behind The Scenes
Questionable answers aren’t just accepted or denied, actually, they go through a small panel of judges before they are granted (or not granted) acceptance. Many super-fans regard this group as fearsome geniuses, but they’re just normal people who are super good at fact-checking!
During the 1950’s, TV game shows weren’t very fair due to secret assistance from show producers. A plague of scandals revealed the unjust behavior, and so, strict guidelines were instated. Jeopardy! contestants are now forbidden to make eye contact with judges, none whatsoever. The set is also not a free-for-all, areas are closed off even from the contestants.
After the cheating scandals, Americans felt that game shows were far from legitimate, potentially threatening the industry. Jeopardy!‘s strict guidelines, new formula, and rigorous contestant selection process made America fall in love with the show for generations to come!