Once a computer programmer from Utah, Ken Jennings gained international renown about a decade ago when he dominated Jeopardy for 74 straight games, earning more than $2.5 million and putting himself in the pantheon of Jeopardy greats for all time.
His encyclopedic knowledge, quick buzzer reflexes and genuine sense of wonderment about the whole thing captivated a viewing public that tuned in in record numbers to see how long he could last.
Jennings so dominated the game’s new rules that removed the five-win limit from its champions, the show has spent the years since his reign bringing back other former greats — and IBM supercomputers — to challenge him. More on that in a minute.
Jennings’ game show windfall allowed him to change his life, and before long he had traded computer programming for writing — including the books Brainiac, Because I Said So, and Maphead — sending a weekly email quiz and producing board games and making other television appearances.
In March, Jennings will return to Jeopardy — this time to face off against some old friends and foes in the Battle of the Decades Tournament. But for now, he’s marking the release of two new children’s books, the Junior Genius Guide to Greek Mythology and Junior Genius Guide to Maps and Geography from Simon and Schuster’s Little Simon imprint.
Read about WAMC's Ian Pickus' experience on Jeopardy.