It’s one of the most iconic game shows of all time. If you’re not a fan, you’ve at least watched the show in passing. If you’re a diehard fan of Jeopardy! you probably think you know all the ins and outs.
I’m willing to bet, actually, I’m willing to guarantee that you don’t know all the tea. Yes, I said tea. There is a lot that happens when the cameras aren’t rolling. Let’s take a quick gander behind the scenes.
I mentioned that there are a ton of fans of the show. When I say a lot, I mean A LOT. There aren’t just normal peasant fans like you and me — there are many A-list celebrities.
The show itself has had over 200 celebrity contestants. Some of the notable celebs are Anderson Cooper, Ashton Kutcher, Nathan Lane, and Lara Logan.
The Longest Winning Streak
Let’s dive into the fun stuff. Ken Jennings holds the record for the longest winning streak on the show.
He went an incredible 27 games in 2004. The software engineer walked away with a set total of over $3 million dollars. Yes, you read that right. He became a millionaire because of Jeopardy!
When you’re on the show for so long, you end up accumulating some pretty incredible insight into how the game works. I mean, other than Alex Trebek and the people who work for the show, Ken spent the most time there.
He was the person who made it public that there are black tiles behind the contestant stands that lower or rise based on your height to make everyone equal.
The Most Cash
But, Ken Jennings wasn’t the only one who made a life-changing amount of money on the show. In fact, despite playing fewer games, Brad Rutter actually made more money.
He has yet to lose to a human. He made almost $4.5 million on the show. That’s pretty darn good for a college dropout.
Highest Single Game Total
The highest single-game total was set by contestant Roger Craig in 2010. Craig walked away with $77,000, which is absolutely nuts.
That broke the regular record of Ken Jennings who, at the time, had a seemingly unbeatable $75,000 game. I mean, feel free to share the wealth fellas.
The Parodies Were Hilarious
One of the best parts of Jeopardy!, especially if you weren’t necessarily a fan of the actual show, was the parodies.
Saturday Night Live had iconic Celebrity Jeopardy! impersonations. Trebek was done by Will Ferrell, but there was also other celebrity impersonations like Sean Connery and Burt Reynolds. It was incredibly popular.
It Was Even Brought Back On The 40th Anniversary
It was such a popular skit that SNL brought it back for their iconic 40th anniversary. While some of the celebrities were new (like Justin Bieber played by Kate McKinnon), some of the old characters were back.
Sean Connery and Burt Reynolds both made appearances during the anniversary special, which was an absolute treat.
Who Is Alex?
Let’s dive a little bit deeper into who Alex Trebek really is. Let me just give you a glimpse at the brilliance of the award-winning host. His real name is actually Giorgi Suka-Alex Trebek.
He’s one of the highest paid game show hosts on the planet, raking in an astounding $10 million a season.
He’s Pretty Talented
He’s also got some talents to back that dough up. He claims that he can speak 17 languages loosely, which really shouldn’t be all that surprising considering he’s been hosting a show that surrounds him with nerds for decades.
The 77-year-old earned his degree in philosophy from the University of Ottawa.
He was born in Sudbury, Ontario which might surprise many people. While he spends almost all of his time in the U.S. now, his roots drag him back to north of the border.
The Alumni Hall at the University of Ottawa was named in his honor in 2015 and he was given an Honorary Doctorate.
He’s Won A Few Awards
Not only has the show itself won a plethora of awards, but so has the host individually. Jeopardy! has won an incredible 33 Daytime Emmy Awards. He’s also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Trebek has tallied 11 Emmys for hosting and even has himself a star on the Walk of Fame.
He is a huge fan of horses. When he’s not putting contestants to the test, he spends an incredible amount of time at the ranch.
He actually owns and manages a 700-acre ranch called Creston Farms where he breeds thoroughbred horses. His love for the animal stems back to his roots in Canada.
Don’t See Their Winnings
Once somebody wins the money on Jeopardy! they probably won’t see it for a while. This is basic game show practice at this point.
Some previous winners have said that they didn’t get paid for six months after the episode aired. One of them said he won $27,100 but only got $20,000 because of federal taxes.
It’s probably the most legendary game show jingle of all-time. That might be an unpopular opinion, but I’m sticking by it.
The theme song was created by media mogul Merv Griffin. It only took him about 30 seconds to write, and he’s made almost $100 million from royalties. Best 30 seconds of his life.
Who Is Merv Griffin?
If you don’t mind, I want to give you more context into who Merv Griffin is. He was not only the host of The Merv Griffin Show, but he also was the founder of MGE (Merv Griffin Entertainment).
Along with the Jeopardy! theme song, he also came up with the Wheel of Fortune tune as well.
The Outfit Changes
There’s a reason that Alex Trebek has said that he owns over 100 different suits. He needs them.
An entire week’s worth of episodes is filmed in just one day. But, to make it look like a different day, everyone has to have different outfits. Alex has to change upward of five times a day when they shoot.
The Online Test
So, how do you get on the show, you ask? Well, there is an online test that you are required to take in order to get selected for an audition.
Nearly 300,000 people take the test a year, but only 3000 are chosen for auditions. I don’t like my odds.
It’s A Long Wait
This isn’t just a test that you can take tomorrow and hope for the best. No, there is a year-long wait list in order to take the test that only happens once a year.
There are 50 random questions to be answered in 15 minutes. Only about 0.4% of applicants make it on the show. You have a better chance of being a New York Times bestseller.
The Small Team
You might think that a show that pulls in an average of 25 million viewers a week would have a big team. Well, you’re wrong.
It’s very small. In fact, there are only 14 people. Nine of them are expert writers, while five of them are knowledgable researchers who create all the content featured on the show.
Eddie Timanus made history when he became the first blind contestant to be featured. He used braille cards for the category headings and typed out his responses using a keyboard.
He was actually incredibly successful too. He won $90,000 over a five day period. He also met his wife because of the show. She saw him on TV and contacted him.
You Can Win With $1
Some may think that it’s the big bankroll that wins the games. And, while that might be true for most of the champions, there have been times when a small amount can pull out the win.
In 1993, a lieutenant in the Air Force won a game with a measly $1.
They also have an annual Teen Tournament (which is more up my alley because the questions are much easier). The most recent winner of this tournament just won $100,000.
I mean, that’s pretty awesome. That might even be enough to pay for like, one semester of college or something fun.
The Best Job
I don’t know about you, but being apart of the Jeopardy! Clue Club would probably be one of the best jobs of all time. It consists of three reporters who go around the world and film the video clues.
They have traveled to over 280 cities in 44 different foreign countries to tape the content.
Figuring out the buzzer is one of the most important parts of being successful on the show. Previous contestants have talked about the utmost importance of getting the timing right.
If a contestant presses the buzzer too early, it is disabled for one-quarter of a second. Getting the timing right is incredibly important.
Trebek Is A Record Holder
Trebek has been the host of Jeopardy! since 1984. Since then, he has appeared in more than 7,300 episodes.
In 2014, he became a Guinness World Record holder for “the most game show episodes hosted by the same presenter”. Trebek says that he’ll remain as the host until at least 2020 when his contract ends.
They Give Back
The show isn’t just about handing out big checks to its winners, it’s also about giving back. The famous faces that appear on the show always agree to give their winnings to charity.
Since the celebrity tournaments debuted in 1992, more than $9 million has been donated to charity.
Not Just Nerds Win
But, not just nerdy celebrities win. One of the most recent celebs to get crowned the Jeopardy! champion was Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers when he came out on top.
I guess he can now add this to his list of other illustrious wins (looking at you, NFL MVP Award and Super Bowl championship).
There’s A Computer
Remember Brad Rutter? He’s the guy who has won almost $5 million in winnings on the show. Well, he hasn’t lost to a human yet, but he has lost to a computer named Watson.
He faced off against the computer with former contestant Ken Jennings. Unfortunately for the human race, they ended up losing.
No Pants Party
Alex Trebek is also known for his quick-witted humor and charisma. I mean, if you’ve been the host for as long as he has, you’re doing something right.
One episode, the host decided to show up to taping without pants on. Yes, he made it a no pants party. The prank was featured on the April Fools Day episode.
The Viral Sensation
When you’re on the air for as long as Jeopardy! is, you’re going to get some interesting characters. Austin Rogers is probably one of the most famous viral sensations to come out of the game show.
He had a dozen-night winning streak in which he won over the audience every time. He was quirky, quick-witted, and hilarious. He ended up walking away with $50,000 too.