List of Jeopardy! tournaments and events

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Jeopardy! is an American television quiz show created by Merv Griffin, in which contestants are presented with clues in the form of answers and must phrase their responses in the form of questions. Over the years, the show has featured many tournaments and special events since Alex Trebek became host in 1984.

Regular tournaments and events[edit]

Tournament of Champions[edit]

Griffin Award

Starting in 1985, the daily syndicated version of Jeopardy! has conducted a regular tournament called the "Tournament of Champions", featuring the most successful champions and other big winners who have appeared on the show since the last tournament. Carried over from the original Jeopardy! series (aired on NBC and hosted by Art Fleming), this tournament has been held on every Trebek-era season aired since its debut, except for Seasons 1, 17, 20, 23, 27, and 30.

The daily syndicated version's Tournament of Champions field consists of the 14 champions who have won the most games (with a minimum of three games to qualify) since the previous Tournament of Champions, as well as the winner(s) of any College Championships that occurred in the period since the last Tournaments of Champions. The Tournament of Champions lasts two weeks over ten episodes in a format devised by Trebek himself in 1985.[1] The first week consists of five quarterfinal matches featuring three different champions each day. The winners of those five games, plus the four highest-scoring non-winners in the tournament (known as wild cards), advance to the semifinals, where the three winners of the three semifinal matches advance to the finals and compete for the championship in a two-game final.

On the Trebek version's Tournaments of Champions, winners are awarded a top prize of $250,000 (formerly $100,000, from 1985 until 2002). As of 2006, the first runner-up is guaranteed $100,000 (formerly $5,000 in 1986, $10,000 from 1987–97, $15,000 from 1998–2002, and $50,000 from 2003–04), while the second runner-up receives $50,000 (previously $5,000 in 1986, $7,500 from 1987–97, $10,000 from 1998–2002, and $25,000 from 2003–04); in the first Trebek-era ToC, the runners-up kept their two-day total winnings. On the Fleming-era tournaments, all players kept their scores in cash at the end of each game, and in addition to their game winnings, the Grand Champions also won a tropical vacation and were presented with a trophy called the Griffin Award, named for Merv Griffin.

Other regular tournaments[edit]

The "Jeopardy! Teen Tournament", which began in 1987, is an annual tournament in which 15 high school students between the ages of 13 and 17 compete in a single-elimination tournament similar in structure to the Tournament of Champions. Since 2003, the top prize awarded to the winner has been valued at $75,000. The Teen Tournament winners' top prizes were previously valued at $25,000 from 1987–2001 and $50,000 from 2001–2003; prior to 2001, the winner was also invited to participate in the Tournament of Champions. Additionally, Teen Tournament winners have also received merchandise at various points: the winners of the 1997, 2001, 2002, and 2003 Teen Tournaments were awarded new cars, and the 2005 Teen Tournament winner received a computer package.

Also in 1987, Jeopardy! began to feature a "Seniors Tournament", featuring 15 contestants all over the age of 50. The format of the tournament was structured similarly to the Tournament of Champions, with 15 contestants competing in groups of three over the first five days of competition. The five one-game champions, plus the four highest-scoring non-winners (wild cards), advanced to the semifinals again in groups of three, with the three semifinal winners advancing to the two-game final match for a top prize of at least $25,000. Contestants defeated in the quarterfinal matches received $1,000, and each semifinalist who did not move to the finals received $5,000. The third-place contestant received $7,500, the second-place contestant received $10,000 and the champion received $25,000. The prizes in the final match were guaranteed minimums; if a contestant achieving first, second or third place finished with a combined two-game score that exceeded the minimum award, the contestant won the higher amount. The tournament winner also received an automatic spot in the Tournament of Champions. The Seniors Tournament was discontinued in December 1995; since then, contestants over the age of 50 have regularly appeared on Jeopardy! in non-tournament games.

Since 1989, Jeopardy! has held an annual "College Championship", which uses a ten game format similar to that used for the Tournament of Champions and the Teen Tournament. 15 full-time undergraduate students with no previous degrees, hailing from colleges and universities throughout the United States, compete in a single elimination tournament over the course of ten episodes. The five quarterfinal champions, plus the four highest-scoring non-winners in the tournament (wild cards), advance to the semifinals, where the three winners of the three semifinal games advance to the finals and compete for the championship in a two game final. The College Championship winner receives a top prize of $100,000 (formerly $25,000 from 1989–2000 and $50,000 from 2000–2002), as well as an automatic position in the next Tournament of Champions. From 1993–2004, the winner also won a new car (Dodge from 1993–1994, Volvo from 1995–2003, and Volkswagen in 2004), and the company who manufactured the car matched each finalists' totals and set up scholarships in those amounts earned for the finalists' schools.

A special event called "Celebrity Jeopardy!", whose inaugural episode aired on October 26, 1992, features notable individuals as contestants competing for charitable organizations of their choice (or, in the cases of public officials, relevant charities chosen by the Jeopardy! production staff). The tradition of special Jeopardy! matches featuring celebrity contestants goes back to the original NBC series, which featured appearances by such notables as Rod Serling,[2] Bill Cullen, Art James, and Peter Marshall.[3] On the Trebek version, Celebrity Jeopardy! has traditionally been broadcast annually as a weeklong event, and on occasion there has been a special version of this event, called "Power Players Week", featuring personalities in politics and journalism. Unlike the regular games, in which a player finishing the Double Jeopardy! round with a zero or negative score is disqualified from playing the Final Jeopardy! round, Celebrity Jeopardy! instead grants players a nominal score of $1,000 with which to wager for the final round. Since its debut, Celebrity Jeopardy! has featured over 200 celebrity contestants, including Anderson Cooper, Lauren Graham, Jodie Foster, Ashton Kutcher, Nathan Lane, Chris Matthews, Harry Connick, Jr., Neil Patrick Harris, Lynn Redgrave, LeVar Burton, Andy Richter, David Duchovny, Wayne Brady, Star Jones, Jane Seymour, Jason Alexander, Regis Philbin, Sam Waterston, Mike Piazza, Larry King, Buzz Aldrin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tom Clancy, Kirsten Dunst, Naomi Judd, Kelsey Grammer, Charles Shaughnessy, Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., Stephen King, and Carol Burnett.[4] The last celebrity tournament was held in 2010. The previous "Power Players Week" was held in DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. in May 2012. "Celebrity Jeopardy!" has repeatedly been parodied in a recurring sketch on Saturday Night Live, with Will Ferrell acting as Alex Trebek (with the real Alex Trebek making an appearance in one sketch).

When Season 16 began in September 1999, the show inaugurated its "Kids Week", a week of five special non-tournament games featuring children aged 10 to 12. Three new contestants compete each day. The winners of each game keep whatever they win, with minimum guarantees of $15,000 ($10,000 from 2000 to 2009, and $5,000 for the first two events in 1999 and 2000). There is no returning champion; however, tiebreakers are held if there is a tie for first place after Final Jeopardy!. The second- and third-place contestants receive consolation prizes, which since 2001 have been $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. The first four times the event was held, the player who had the highest winning score during the week was also awarded a bonus of $5,000.[5] No "Kids Week" tournament was held during the 30th season of the quiz show.

In May of 2011, to mark its 6,000th Trebek-era episode, Jeopardy! introduced its "Teachers Tournament" featuring 15 full-time teachers of students in grades kindergarten through twelve. The tournament is similar in format to other tournaments, with the winner receiving a guaranteed minimum of $100,000 and an invitation to participate in the Tournament of Champions. The first runner-up collects $50,000 and the second runner-up wins $25,000 (or their combined scores from the two-game final, whichever are higher). Semifinalists who are eliminated collect $10,000 while those eliminated in the quarterfinals pocket $5,000.

Special events[edit]

"All-time best" tournaments[edit]

Over the course of its run, Jeopardy! has invited players who competed on the show in previous seasons to return and play in tournaments.

Super Jeopardy![edit]

The first of these alumni tournaments was Super Jeopardy!, a special summer series that premiered on ABC on June 16, 1990.

A total of thirty-six contestants competed in Super Jeopardy!. Thirty-five of them were some of the biggest winners that had competed in the first six years of the syndicated Jeopardy! series that had aired to that point. The other spot was reserved for Burns Cameron, who had appeared on the original daytime series in 1965 and won a total of $11,110 in regular and tournament play to set that series' all time record.

Super Jeopardy! featured four contestants per episode in the quarterfinal games, while subsequent rounds were played with the usual three players. Each game was played for points instead of money, and the clue values were adjusted accordingly; correct answers were worth 200-1000 in the Jeopardy! round and 500–2500 points in Double Jeopardy!; this was the only time in the show's history that the second round values were not double those of the first round.

Any contestant that was eliminated in the quarterfinal round won $5,000 and the contestants eliminated in the semifinal round won $15,000.

The finals of the tournament aired on September 8, 1990 and pitted Bruce Seymour, Bob Verini, and Dave Traini in a match where the winner would receive $250,000. Traini finished in negative territory and thus could not play Final Jeopardy!, thus automatically finishing third and winning $25,000. Seymour, leading entering Final Jeopardy!, correctly answered the final and won the top prize. Verini, who did not answer correctly, finished second and won $50,000.[6]

Other tournaments[edit]

In November 1993, to honor the Trebek version's 10th anniversary, Jeopardy! held a special one-week "10th Anniversary Tournament", in which semifinalists and finalists of past Tournaments of Champions competed for a winner's prize of a combined two-day final score total plus a $25,000 bonus.[7] The tournament featured three qualifying round matches to determine three finalists, who would then go up against each other in a two-game total point match. Eliminated semifinalists received consolation prizes of $5,000, while the second runner-up received a guaranteed minimum of $7,500, the first runner-up received a guaranteed minimum of $10,000, and the winner would earn his or her two-game total plus a $25,000 bonus.[8] Frank Spangenberg won the tournament with a two-game score of $16,800 plus a $25,000 bonus for a total of $41,800. Tom Nosek, the 1993 Tournament of Champions winner, finished second with $13,600, while Leslie Frates won the $7,500 guaranteed third place prize, which exceeded her score of $4,499.

In May 2002, to commemorate the Trebek version's 4,000th episode, Jeopardy! invited 15 former champions to Radio City Music Hall to participate in the two-week "Million Dollar Masters Tournament".[9] The tournament featured the same two-week, three-round format as the traditional tournaments on Jeopardy! The event's first round ran from May 1 to May 7, and ended with the champions of all five games, as well as four "wild card" non-winners with the highest scores, moving on to the semi-finals. The three semifinal matches, televised on May 8–10, were won by Eric Newhouse, Brad Rutter, and Bob Verini, who subsequently advanced to face one another in the two-day final, aired May 13 and 14. The tournament ended with Rutter winning the $1,000,000 grand prize,[10] Newhouse coming in second and winning $100,000, and Verini placing third and winning $50,000.

The "Ultimate Tournament of Champions", a special 15-week single-elimination tournament involving a total of 145 contestants, began airing on February 9, 2005 and concluded on May 25, 2005, covering 76 shows in total.[11] The tournament, whose contestants had all been either winners of past tournaments or former five-time champions, was designed to produce two contestants who would face off in a three-game, cumulative-score final against Ken Jennings, who had won the most money in Jeopardy! regular play history at the time; the three finalists would then play in a three-game final for a grand prize of $2,000,000, the largest prize the show has ever offered in a tournament. The tournament was won by Brad Rutter, with Jennings finishing second and collecting $500,000, while Jerome Vered finished third and took home $250,000.[12] All in all, the tournament's contestants won a combined grand total of $5,604,413.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Trebek version, Jeopardy! held a special "Battle of the Decades Tournament" in 2014 featuring 45 contestants who had all competed in past Tournaments of Champions. The field of contestants were divided into decades of Jeopardy! (1984–93, 1994–2003, and 2004–13), and competed against players who participated in the same decade. Five matches for each decade were played in the standard one-match win format (fifteen in total). The winners of those matches went on to compete in a standard Jeopardy! tournament format for a grand prize of $1,000,000. One tournament contestant per decade was chosen by fans who voted online via the Jeopardy! website or through social media. Rutter, Jennings, and Roger Craig advanced to the finals, with Rutter winning the tournament and $1,000,000 grand prize. Jennings came in second, taking home $100,000, and Craig came in third, winning $50,000.

Reunion tournaments[edit]

A special one-week tournament held in November 1998 invited back 12 former Teen Tournament contestants to compete in a single-elimination tournament. The three highest-scoring winners of the four semifinal matches competed in a one-game final where the champion received $50,000; the second and third-place players received $15,000 and $10,000, respectively. The semifinal winner who did not participate in the finals received $7,500, and the other contestants each received $5,000. The tournament was won by Eric Newhouse.

The Jeopardy! Kids Week Reunion brought back 15 Kids Week alumni from the 1999 and 2000 Kids Week games to compete for a minimum $25,000 each game.[13] The special week of programming was taped on August 12, 2008 and was broadcast from September 15, 2008 to September 19, 2008.[14]

The "Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational" began on September 17, 2009, and subsequent games aired on the third Thursday of every month from September 2009 to April 2010, with an additional quarter-final on the third Friday of April 2010. The semi-final and final rounds aired during the first full week of May 2010. A total of 27 celebrities—three per game for the nine semifinal episodes—competed for a grand prize of $1,000,000 for their charity. The nine winners of each qualifying game returned in May 2010 for three semi-final games, and the semi-final winners competed in a two-day "total point" final to determine the grand champion in a format similar to other annual Jeopardy! tournaments. The winner of each qualifying game won a minimum of $50,000 for their charity (more if their post-Final Jeopardy! score exceeded $50,000), and the two runners-up each received $25,000 for their charities.[15] Jane Curtin, Michael McKean and Cheech Marin advanced to the two-game final, and McKean won the tournament, earning $1 million for his charity, the International Myeloma Foundation.

IBM Challenge[edit]

The "IBM Challenge" aired February 14–16, 2011 and featured IBM's Watson computer facing off against Jennings and Rutter in a two-game match played over three shows.[16] This was the first man-vs.-machine competition in Jeopardy!'s history.[17] Watson locked up the first game and the match to win the grand prize of $1 million, which IBM divided between two charities (World Vision International and World Community Grid).[18] Jennings, who won $300,000 for second place, and Rutter, who won the $200,000 third-place prize, both pledged to donate half of their total winnings to their respective charities.[19] The competition brought the show its highest ratings since the Ultimate Tournament of Champions.[20]

International Tournaments[edit]

One-week tournaments featuring champions from each of the international versions of Jeopardy! were held in 1996, 1997, and 2001. Each of the countries that aired their own version of the show in those years could nominate a contestant. The format was identical to the semifinals and finals of the Tournament of Champions. On the first two tournaments, the winner was awarded $25,000, while the first and second runner-ups received $10,000 and $7,500 respectively, with semifinalists receiving $5,000. For the 2001 tournament, the winner's prize was doubled to $50,000, while the two runner-ups received $15,000 and $10,000, but the semifinalists continued to receive $5,000.

Winners who earned more than the minimum guarantee are as indicated below:

Finalists Semifinalists
Alex Trebek Era (1984–present)
Olympic Games Tournament: Season 12 (July 15–18, 1996), in Culver City, California
Winner: Ulf Jensen (Sweden Sweden, $25,000)
1st runner-up: Mandi Hale (United Kingdom United Kingdom, $10,000)
2nd runner-up: Jan Mertens (Belgium Belgium, $7,500)
Steinar Madsen (Norway Norway)
Elena Kislenkova (Russia Russia)
Søren Wedderkopp (Denmark Denmark)
Thomas (Tom) Kinne (Germany Germany)
Hasib Yildirim (Turkey Turkey)
Ryan Holznagel (United States United States)
International Tournament: Season 13 (May 5–9, 1997), in Stockholm, Sweden[21][22]
Winner: Michael Daunt (Canada Canada, $35,000)
1st runner-up: Per Gunnar Hillesoy (Norway Norway, $22,000)
2nd runner-up: Boris Levit (Israel Israel, $7,500)
Anatoly Belkine (Russia Russia)
Dana Pernille Hansen (Denmark Denmark)
Tobias Herzig (Germany Germany)
Eva Holmberg (Sweden Sweden)
Gay Mollette (United States United States)
Murat Sen (Turkey Turkey)
International Championship: Season 17 (February 12–16, 2001), in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States[23]
Winner: Robin Carroll (United States United States, $50,000)
1st runner-up: Frederik Gildea (Sweden Sweden, $15,000)
2nd runner-up: Carsten Weidermann (Denmark Denmark, $10,000)
Yuri Bershidski (Russia Russia)
Gosia Czepek (Poland Poland)
Sharon Eshel (Israel Israel)
Firat Isbecer (Turkey Turkey)
Laszlo Mero (Hungary Hungary)
Ott Sandrak (Estonia Estonia)

The 1997 International Tournament, held in Stockholm, is significant for being the first week of Jeopardy! episodes to be taped in a foreign country. Mälte, the Swedish version's announcer at that time, from the Magnus Härenstam era, was the announcer during the tournament instead of Johnny Gilbert. The 1997 contest also featured a contestant from Canada—Michael Daunt, who had previously competed on the American version, and who himself would go on to win the championship.[21] Since Canada does not have its own version of Jeopardy! (instead simulcasting the American version), the 1997 tournament was the only one to feature two contestants from the American show.


  1. ^ Eisenberg, Harry (1993). Inside "Jeopardy!": What Really Goes on at TV's Top Quiz Show. Salt Lake City, Utah: Northwest Publishing Inc. p. 75. ISBN 1-56901-177-X. Alex put together the 2-week, 15-contestant format used on the current show. We had 15 undefeated five-time champions the first season. In subsequent seasons we never had as many as 15 five-game winners so we added those four-game winners with the highest scores until we had the requisite 15 contestants for the Tournament. 
  2. ^ Fleming, Art; Richard Chapin and George Vosburgh (1979). Art Fleming's TV Game Show Fact Book. Salt Lake City, Utah: Osmond Publishing Co. pp. 4–6. ISBN 0-89888-005-X. 
  3. ^ Schwartz, David; Steve Ryan and Fred Wostbrock (1999). The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows, 3rd ed. New York, New York: Checkmark Books. p. 112. ISBN 0-8160-3847-3. 
  4. ^ "This is Jeopardy!: Show History". Sony Pictures Digital and Jeopardy Productions. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Jeopardy! Hosts Its First Ever Back to School Week for Kids". September 6, 1999. Archived from the original on December 21, 2007. Retrieved January 7, 2008. Each day of shows features three contestants. The winner of each show keeps the money he or she wins, with a minimum guarantee of $5,000. The other two contestants receive two computers and software. As an added bonus, the person with the highest earnings at the end of the week gets an additional $5,000. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Richmond, Ray (2004). This is Jeopardy!: Celebrating America's Favorite Quiz Show. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. p. 150. ISBN 0-7607-5374-1. 
  8. ^ Early on during the Tournament, host Alex Trebek announced in error that the winner's purse included a $10,000 bonus, not a $25,000 bonus.
  9. ^ Richmond, Ray (2004). This is Jeopardy!: Celebrating America's Favorite Quiz Show. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. p. 200. ISBN 0-7607-5374-1. 
  10. ^ "Jeopardy!'streak". Associated Press. Brad Rutter of Lancaster, Penn., earned a total of $1,155,102 after winning a Million Dollar Masters Tournament. 
  11. ^ "Jeopardy! Seeking Tournament of Champions Alumni". May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Jennings Has No Regret Despite Second-Place Finish: Utah's Jeopardy! Legend Has Plenty of Irons in Fire". Deseret News. May 26, 2005. Retrieved August 18, 2013. 
  13. ^ Kids Week Reunion official press release
  14. ^ "The kids are back". August 15, 2008. Retrieved August 27, 2008. 
  15. ^ As no runner-up accumulated a score in excess of $25,000, there is no definitive information on whether that amount was also a minimum guarantee or a flat award.
  16. ^ "Smartest Machine on Earth Episode 1". DocumentaryStorm. Archived from the original on February 17, 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  17. ^ "IBM's "Watson" Computing System to Challenge All Time Greatest Jeopardy! Champions". December 14, 2010. Retrieved December 15, 2010. 
  18. ^ "World Community Grid to benefit from Jeopardy! competition". World Community Grid. February 4, 2011. Retrieved February 19, 2011. 
  19. ^ "(CNN) -- So far, it's elementary for Watson". February 15, 2011. Retrieved February 15, 2011. 
  20. ^ Albiniak, Paige (February 17, 2011). "IBM's Watson: 'Jeopardy!' Champ, Ratings Winner: Three days of Watson-based episodes drives 'Jeopardy!' to six-year highs". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved February 21, 2011. 
  21. ^ a b Richmond, Ray (2004). This is Jeopardy!: Celebrating America's Favorite Quiz Show. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. p. 150. ISBN 0-7607-5374-1. [For Season 13, new producer Harry Friedman's] first order of business: travel to Sweden for Jeopardy!'s first-ever tapings in a foreign country. ... The international tournament is shot on the set of the Jeopardy! version in Stockholm, complete with ring-in apparatus that find contestants banging on plungers rather than ringing buzzers. Michael Daunt of Canada wins the international championship. 
  22. ^ Harris, Bob (2006). Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy!. New York: Crown Publishers. p. 15. ISBN 0-307-33956-4. Like any burgeoning empire, Jeopardy! has also swept across distant lands, with local versions in Canada, England, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Denmark, Israel, and Australia. This led eventually to the International Tournament of 1997, which was won by Michael Daunt, a mild-mannered accountant from Canada with a kindly demeanor and a killer instinct that emerges about every twelve seconds. 
  23. ^ Harris, Bob (2006). Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy!. New York: Crown Publishers. p. 15. ISBN 0-307-33956-4. A second International Tournament in 2001 was won by Robin Carroll, a homemaker from Georgia with a sweet smile, a warm laugh, and the ability to bring grown men to their knees with her thumb. 

External links[edit]