“Jeopardy!” fans, James Holzhauer and Ken Jennings are, no doubt, two names you won’t soon forget, since, collectively, they’ve won more than $6 million on the quiz show. But who is Brad Rutter, the third contestant in the epic battle for the title of “Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time“? Fact is, he’s the one person who has won more money on the show than both of them.
Rutter is the man to beat if Holzhauer and Jennings are looking to nab that “greatest” title.
Holzhauer, the trivia-wizard who swept up a 32-day winnings streak last season, and Jennings, the record-holder for highest winnings in regular-season play and most games won overall, will be facing-off with Rutter in ABC’s multi-night competition starting Jan. 7, and keep going until one of them wins three games.
Rutter holds the record for the highest-earning American game show contestant of all time. He first appeared on “Jeopardy!” in 2000, where he became a 5-day champion, taking home $55,102, a spot in the following year’s Tournament of Champions, and a brand-new car — at the time, that was still a prize contestants could win.
He went on to win $100,000 in the 2001 Tournament of Champions, and then he took home $1,000,000 in 2002 as the winner of the Million Dollar Masters Tournament, making him the highest overall “Jeopardy!” money winner at the time.
In 2003, the rules of the game changed to get rid of the 5-game winning cap, giving way for Jennings to achieve his 74-game winning streak in 2004 and edging him ahead of Rutter as the new highest-overall money winner in the game. And there thus the rivalry between Rutter and Jennings began.
The two went on to compete head-to-head in 2005 at the Ultimate Tournament of Champions, where Rutter won the $2,100,000 prize, defeating Jennings and Jerome Vered and taking back the title of highest “Jeopardy!” money winner — as well as earning him the highest-ever money winner on any American game show, which he still holds.
If history tells us anything, Rutter stands a good chance in this week’s competition, as he has historically faired the best in special tournaments. Jennings, however, remains the champion of regular-season play, having won the most consecutive games and holding the record for highest-winnings in regular-season play with $2,520,700. Jennings’ overall winnings amount to $3,370,700 including tournaments, while Rutter’s overall winnings amount to $4,688,436, according to Jeopardy’s website.
Holzhauer remains 2019’s golden boy, and currently holds the all-time record for highest winnings in a single game with $131,127. His overall winnings currently stand at $2,712,216.
The next episode of “Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time” airs Wednesday at 8/7c on ABC.