Winning Jeopardy! is a lifelong dream for numerous trivia fanatics, however it doesn’t simply confer bragging rights—it have the right to come with a serious, life-changing payday.


Ever thought about winning Jeopardy!—hearing the roar the the audience, emotion that heat sense that accomplishment, walking across the phase to shake Alex Trebek’s hand? win Jeopardy! is a lifelong dream for hundreds of trivia fanatics and game show hopefuls, however it doesn’t simply confer bragging rights—it deserve to come v a significant payday. America’s favorite quiz present doles out countless dollars a year in prize winnings, catapulting legendary champions come fame, fortune, and also life without day jobs. Also for much more modest winners who don’t rake in millions, Jeopardy! prize money has enabled champions to do whatever from salary off college student loans to take trip the world.

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“Best” is a many-shaded hatchet in Jeopardy! Nation, so for the sake of argument, we’re defining “best” as highest possible earnings in continuous season play, i beg your pardon excludes special occasions like The competition of champion or The best of all Time Tournament. Read on for a full rundown the the Jeopardy! pantheon—and if that inspires friend to take the plunge yourself, start studying because that the legendary quiz.

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1Ken Jennings


Albuquerque mathematics teacher Jason Zuffranieri winner a complete of $532,496 over 19 games in 2019, cementing him in the Jeopardy! pantheon together the 4th highest-earning contestant of every time. He share the record for fourth-longest winning streak with David Madden (more on that below). The historic streak to be a long time coming for Zuffranieri, who auditioned because that Jeopardy! nine times before making it onto the show. “My mentality for 25 years was that i wasn’t expected to be on the display for everything reason: no smart enough, no camera-friendly, no interesting, whatever,” Zuffranieri said. “To ultimately get a chance on that phase was a dream come true, and the level of good fortune I got is truly beyond anything i ever considered could happen.”

Trivia is in David Madden’s blood. Following his 2005 warm streak as the fifth highest-earning contestant of all time (at $430,400), Madden go on to found the National background Bee and also Bowl, 2 nationwide history competitions for students to contend as individuals and teams. Madden additionally founded the US location Olympiad, the International geography Olympiad, the US scholastic Bee and also Bowl, the nationwide Science Bee, and also the National liberal arts Bee, among other trivia competitions. In 2020, Madden turn his trivia prowess come politics once he founded Demoquiz, a communication where democratic candidates might fundraise with online quiz nights.

Julia Collins, a it is provided chain manager native Illinois, made history in 2014 when she netted $428,100 over the food of 20 continually victories. Today, she continues to be the highest-ranked mrs contestant of every time. ~ her historic winning streak, Collins spent part of the windfall ~ above a trip to Paris and also London, and used the revenue to pivot to a brand-new career. Collins now runs her very own nonprofit, Girls choose You and Me, an organization specialized to “helping clever girls discover careers they love.”

Washington D.C. Paralegal Matt Jackson came to Jeopardy! in 2015 through a long background of quiz key championship suffer at Yale. Those years paid turn off in his 11 game winning streak, which ultimately earned the $411,612. Recognized for his lightning speed on the buzzer, Jackson charmed pan by making use of his finger to screen his number of wins throughout the on-camera introductions—until that ran out of fingers. After ~ his streak ended, Jackson donated 10% of his winnings come a variety of charities.

Austin Rogers’ sarcastic banter through Alex Trebek earned the a special ar in the mind of Jeopardy! fans—as walk his 12 video game streak, i m sorry earned the $411,000. Fan to his upbeat demeanor and quirky sense of feeling (some referred to as it “Krameresque”), Rogers came to be a famous sensation throughout his win streak. After ~ his streak ended, Rogers bought a rare 1989 Honda Civic, travel the world, and also returned to his job as a brand-new York City bartender. Today, Rogers is tho bartending in ~ The Gaf West, wherein he operated prior to Jeopardy!, and hosting trivia nights at various other bars.

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Arthur Chu, an insurance compliance analyst from Cleveland, Ohio, kickstarted a pop society frenzy during his 11-game streak in 2014, which netted that $297,200. Chu’s aggressive, game theory-fueled style of play, in which that hopscotched about the plank in search of everyday Doubles rather than playing v each classification in direct fashion, scandalized Jeopardy! Nation, i beg your pardon denounced that as whatever from “smug” to “evil” to “an emotionless villain.” Chu taken on the location of Jeopardy! Villain, saying, “I’m simply up there being a machine, play the game. Mowing through the questions mechanically through this detached mien favor a stunner person. The is no the many likable next of me.” after Jeopardy!, Chu got renown as a writer, speaking out around nerd culture and stridently the contrary the Gamergate movement.

Seth Wilson ranks together the tenth highest-earning contestant of all time, complying with his 12 video game streak in 2016. Doctor candidate Wilson earned $265,002 throughout his time as a Jeopardy! champion, i beg your pardon he used to pay turn off his college student loans and travel to Europe. ~ Alex Trebek’s death in 2020, Wilson mental an unforgettable interaction with the “personable and also gracious” host: "He stated if he to be on a trivia team that he would want to it is in on a team through me because I seem to understand a lot around different things. That was flattering due to the fact that Alex safety a lot of time of his experienced life v really smart people."

Adrienne WestenfeldAssistant EditorAdrienne Westenfeld is a writer and also editor at, wherein she consists books and also culture.
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