On this day in 1964, March 30th, one of the mainstays of American entertainment would begin; as Jeopardy aired its first ever competition. 53 years later, it has been hailed as the greatest game show of all time by TV Guide. Since the first ever competition. Jeopardy has given away millions of dollars to contestants. For this week’s map, we took a look at which contestants have won the most – and the states they hail from.
Who is Brad Rutter? In 20 games against human opposition Rutter has never lost an official Jeopardy match; and his winnings tally $4,385,702. He’s won 4 Jeopardy tournaments which have helped that number grow over the years: the 2001 Tournament of Champions, the 2002 Million Dollar Masters Tournament, the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions, and the 2014 Battle of the Decades. His only loss comes against the Watson supercomputer, in an exhibition.
Second to Rutter in winnings is Ken Jennings. Hailing from Washington, Jennings won $3,270,700 during his time on Jeopardy. Before Rutter’s run of dominance, Jennings held the title of most money won, as well as holding the record for one-day winnings for a time ($75,000, later claimed by Roger Craig). Jennings beat Rutter in the two-night exhibition with Watson in terms of points – but still failed to overcome the supercomputer.
All told, the data displayed in this map covers the top 100 contestants – by winnings – in the Alex Trebek era of Jeopardy. Taken from Jeopardy’s own Champion’s Archive the data includes a state, university, or country of residence for 89 of the 100 contestants included. In the bottom right corner of the map a short top 5 list of contestants is also included.
For a more detailed look at how the top 10 states, and Watson, match up in terms of winnings the chart below the map shows this data. Jennings (WA) and Rutter (PA) are significant influences on their respective states’ totals, while California (9), New Jersey (9), and New York (7) climb the rankings due to sending the greatest number of contestants.