Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions
The Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions is an annual tournament featuring the longest-running champions from the past season or seasons of Jeopardy! The tournament began in 1964 during Art Fleming's tenure as host, and has continued into the Alex Trebek era of the show. There have been four years in which the Tournament was skipped altogether (1984, 1997, 2008, and 2012), and six seasons (1, 17, 20, 23, 27, and 30). The brief 1978-1979 revival, which aired for five months, is known to have had a Tournament as well.
In 2002, Jeopardy! held a Million Dollar Masters tournament featuring fifteen previous champions, and in 2005 the show held an Ultimate Tournament of Champions for over three months, which featured over 100 champions from previous years instead of a regular Tournament of Champions for just the previous year; that season's Tournament of Champions began on September 20, 2004, featuring any remaining Season 19 champions that hadn't qualified for that year's tournament as well as all of the Season 20 qualifiers except for Ken Jennings, who had just resumed his winning streak two weeks before the tournament started (Jennings' streak was interrupted three times that year; the other two times were for the show's annual Kids' Week in October 2004 and the College Championship in November 2004).
In 2014, Jeopardy! held a Battle of the Decades tournament featuring 45 previous champions, with 15 from their respective decade (1984-1993, 1994-2003, and 2004-2013). All of the players competed in a week-long slate of games, respective of decade, from which the winners out of each game would become quarterfinalists. Those 15 winners would then return to compete in a regular tournament format, with the winner taking home $1,000,000.
In the current version of the show, the Tournament of Champions includes 15 players. Most of the slots are reserved for regular-season players who have won the most games since the previous championship contestants were chosen, followed by the most money in the case of the same number of games won. A minimum of three wins is required. In the 2013 Tournament of Champions, which taped in mid-January 2013 and aired in February 2013, three seeds were reserved for the winner of the College Championship and winners of the Season 28 and Season 29 Teachers Tournament. For many years, the winner(s) of the Teen Tournament and the Seniors Tournament also participated, but the Seniors Tournament was discontinued after 1995, and a Teen Tournament winner was last invited to the Tournament of Champions in 2000.
With the expansion of the field to 15 players in the Alex Trebek era, the Tournament of Champions now lasts two weeks (10 shows) with the following format, devised by Trebek himself in 1985 to suit the 15 five-time champions from the previous year. The same format applies to the Teen Tournament, College Championship, and Teachers Tournament; it previously applied to the Seniors Tournament and the 2002 Million Dollar Masters Tournament:
- Shows 1–5: The quarterfinals, with three new contestants participating each day. The five winners and the four highest-scoring losers (wild cards) advance to the semifinals. In case of a tie for winner (other than a triple-zero), the tied players participate in one final toss-up clue; the player who rings in and gives the correct question advances. A player cannot win by default, and must give the correct question to win. Should neither player offer a correct response, the question is thrown out and edited out of the final broadcast; only the final question that determines the winner is broadcast. In case of a tie among the four highest-scoring losers, the highest score after "Double Jeopardy!" is used. Any game ending with a triple-zero tie eliminates all three players, and an additional wild card position is added.
- Shows 6–8: The semifinals, with only the three winners advancing to finals. Tournament tie-breaker rules apply. As in the quarterfinals, a triple-zero tie eliminates all three players, and a wild card position is added for the highest-scoring semifinal loser.
- Shows 9–10: Two-legged tie final. Each leg is treated as a new match (players start with zero score, although the podia for the second leg will display a player's score from the first leg), with aggregate score determining final positions, with one exception; a contestant with a zero or negative score at the end of Double Jeopardy! will have their score raised to zero. The championship is determined by the highest aggregate score, with runners-up receiving either a guaranteed cash prize or the amount of their two-day total, whichever is higher.
The prize amounts for all contestants are as follows:
|Period||Finalists (minimum guarantees)||Semifinalists||Quarterfinalists|
|Winner||1st runner-up||2nd runner-up|
|1964–1974||All players kept their scores in cash at the end of each game||none, except in 1969|
|1985||$100,000||Kept two-day total winnings||$5,000||$1,000|
- During the Art Fleming era of the show, in addition to their score winnings, Grand Champions won a tropical vacation and were presented with a trophy called the annual Griffin Award, named for show creator Merv Griffin. In many years they also received a $1,000 bonus.
- In 2006, schools selected by each contestant received the Classroom Jeopardy! electronic game in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week.
- In 2007, each contestant received the Jeopardy! DVD Home Game System.
List of participants
The following is a list of contestants and where they placed in the tournament. Prize amounts for the non-winning finalists who won more than the minimum guarantees are as indicated in parentheses.
|Art Fleming Era (1964–1975)|
|First annual (1964)|
|Winner: Terry Thompson
Madeline Von Koch
|Second annual (1965)|
|Winner: Babs McClellan
|Third annual (1966)|
|Winner: Burns Cameron||[No quarterfinals]|
|Fourth annual (1967)|
|Fifth annual (1968)|
|Winner: Red Gibson
|Sixth annual (1969)|
|Winner: Jay Wolpert
|Seventh annual (1970)|
|Winner: Gene Cheatam||[No quarterfinals]|
|Eighth annual (1971)|
|Winner: Rock Johnson
|Ninth annual (1972)|
|Winner: Anne Marie Sutton
Lorraine Gorman (last name uncertain; may be Gurman or Corman)
|Tenth annual (1973)|
|Winner: Paula Ogren
|Eleventh annual (1974)|
|Winner: Denny Golden||[No quarterfinals]|
|Alex Trebek Era (1984–present)|
|Season 2 (November 11–22, 1985)|
|Winner: Jerry Frankel
1st runner-up: Bruce Fauman ($9,399)
2nd runner-up: Steve Rogitz ($5,100)
Paul Boymel (Season 1 biggest winner)
SSGT Paul Croshier
|Season 3 (November 3–14, 1986)|
|Winner: Chuck Forrest (Season 2 biggest winner)
1st runner-up: Paul Rouffa
2nd runner-up: Marvin Shinkman
|Season 4 (November 9–20, 1987)|
|Winner: Bob Verini
1st runner-up: David Traini ($16,000)
2nd runner-up: Eugene Finerman ($11,600)
John Ryan (Season 3 biggest winner)
Zeke Sevilla, Jr.
|Season 5 (November 7–18, 1988)|
|Winner: Mark Lowenthal
1st runner-up: Bruce Naegeli (Season 4 biggest winner, $18,799)
2nd runner-up: Sandra Gore ($13,000)
|Season 6 (November 6–17, 1989)|
|Winner: Tom Cubbage (also won Season 5 College Championship)
1st runner-up: Rich Lerner ($15,500)
2nd runner-up: Brian Wangsgard (Season 5 biggest winner)
|ABC's Super Jeopardy (June 16-September 8, 1990)|
|Winner: Bruce Seymour
1st runner-up: Bob Verini
2nd runner-up: Dave Traini
Zeke Sevilla Jr.
Ofc. Frank Spangenberg
|Season 7 (November 5–16, 1990)|
|Winner: Bob Blake
1st runner-up: Larry McKnight
2nd runner-up: Steve Berman
Ofc. Frank Spangenberg (Season 6 biggest winner)
|Season 8 (November 4–15, 1991)|
|Winner: Jim Scott
1st runner-up: Steve Robin ($12,600)
2nd runner-up: Lou Pryor ($9,700)
|Mark Born (Season 7 biggest winner)
|Season 9 (November 9–20, 1992)|
|Winner: Leszek Pawlowicz
1st runner-up: Bruce Simmons
2nd runner-up: Jerome Vered (Season 8 biggest winner)
Ofc. Frank Epstein
John Kelly, RET USAF
|Season 10 (November 15–26, 1993)|
|Winner: Tom Nosek
1st runner-up: Bev Schwartzberg ($19,100)
2nd runner-up: Marilyn Kneeland ($11,500)
Ed Schiffer (Season 9 biggest winner)
|10th Anniversary Tournament (November 29-December 3, 1993)|
|Winner: Ofc. Frank Spangenberg ($41,800)
1st runner-up: Tom Nosek ($13,600)
2nd runner-up: Leslie Frates
|Season 11 (November 14–25, 1994)|
|Winner: Rachael Schwartz
1st runner-up: Jeff Stewart ($20,800)
2nd runner-up: David Hillinck ($7,500)
Steve Chernicoff (Season 10 biggest winner)
|Season 12 (November 13–24, 1995)|
|Winner: Ryan Holznagel
1st runner-up: David Siegel (Season 11 biggest winner, $24,600)
2nd runner-up: Isaac Segal ($16,600)
Paul Thompson (Season 12 biggest winner)
|Season 13 (November 18–29, 1996)|
|Winner: Michael Dupée
1st runner-up: Bob Scarpone ($11,000)
2nd runner-up: Michael Daunt ($8,200)
|Season 14 (February 2–13, 1998)|
|Winner: Dan Melia (Season 14 biggest winner)
1st runner-up: Kim Worth (Season 13 biggest winner)
2nd runner-up: Bob Harris
Josh Den Hartog
|Season 15 (February 8–19, 1999)|
|Winner: David Abbott
1st runner-up: J.J. Todor ($20,600)
2nd runner-up: Juliet Wiley
|David Bagley (Season 15 biggest winner)
|Season 16 (May 8–19, 2000); taped at the Atlanta Civic Center in Atlanta, Georgia|
|Winner: Robin Carroll
1st runner-up: Jeremy Bate
2nd runner-up: Steve Fried
|Season 18 (October 22–November 2, 2001)|
|Winner: Brad Rutter
1st runner-up: Tad Carithers
2nd runner-up: Rick Knutsen
Babu Srinivasan (Season 17 biggest winner)
Doug Lach (Season 16 biggest winner)
|Million Dollar Masters Tournament (May 1–14, 2002) taped at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York|
|Winner: Brad Rutter
1st runner-up: Eric Newhouse
2nd runner-up: Bob Verini
Leslie Shannon (Miller)
Ofc. Frank Spangenberg
|Season 19 (May 5–16, 2003)|
|Winner: Mark Dawson
1st runner-up: Brian Weikle (Season 19 biggest winner, $56,601)
2nd runner-up: Eric Floyd (Season 18 biggest winner)
Jill Bunzendahl Chimka
|Season 21 (September 20–October 1, 2004)|
|Winner: Russ Schumacher
1st runner-up: Tom Walsh (Season 20 biggest winner)
2nd runner-up: Arthur Gandolfi
Scott "Renzo" Renzoni
|Season 21 Ultimate Tournament of Champions (February 9–May 25, 2005)|
|Winner: Brad Rutter
1st runner-up: Ken Jennings (Season 21 biggest winner)
2nd runner-up: Jerome Vered
Ofc. Frank Spangenberg
Also see main article Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions
|Season 22 (May 8–19, 2006)|
|Winner: Michael Falk
1st runner-up: Vik Vaz
2nd runner-up: Bill MacDonald
|David Madden (Season 22 biggest winner)
|Season 24 (November 5–16, 2007)|
|Winner: Celeste DiNucci
1st runner-up: Doug Hicton
2nd runner-up: Cliff Galiher
|Mehrun Etebari (Season 23 biggest winner)
|Season 25 (March 11–24, 2009); taped at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Winner: Dan Pawson
1st runner-up: Larissa Kelly (Season 24 biggest winner)
2nd runner-up: Aaron Schroeder
|Season 26 (May 10–21, 2010)|
|Winner: Vijay Balse
1st runner-up: Jason Zollinger (Season 26 biggest winner)
2nd runner-up: Stefan Goodreau
Justin Bernbach (Season 25 biggest winner)
|Season 28 (November 2–15, 2011)|
|Winner: Roger Craig
1st runner-up: Tom Nissley (Season 27 biggest winner)
2nd runner-up: Buddy Wright
|Season 29 (February 13–26, 2013); presented by Prudential|
|Winner: Colby Burnett (also won Season 29 Teachers Tournament)
1st runner-up: Keith Whitener
2nd runner-up: Kristin Morgan
Jason Keller (Season 28 biggest winner)
|Season 30 Battle of the Decades (February 3–May 16, 2014)|
|Winner: Brad Rutter
1st runner-up: Ken Jennings
2nd runner-up: Roger Craig
- Up until season 11, winners from one season would be allowed to compete in the following season's tournament. However, since the tournament didn't air until November, players who won in September, October, and (sometimes) the early part of November of one season would not be eligible to compete until next season's tournament, which meant they would have to wait thirteen or fourteen months for that. Since it caused so much confusion among Jeopardy! staff and viewers, the eligibility requirement was changed in season 11 so that players who won in September, October, and (sometimes) the early part of November of one season would be eligible to compete in the same season's tournament. Since the tournament now airs at different times each year (and because some seasons have skipped the tournament altogether), this now means that any players who won between the day after the previous tournament and the day before the following tournament would be eligible to compete in that following tournament. Furthermore, if there was not enough room for that individual, they would be guaranteed a spot in the next tournament after the following one.
- The season 16 tournament was the only tournament to feature two Teen Tournament winners and two College Championship winners in the same tournament—one of each from season 15 (Melissa Sexstone and Carolyn Cracraft) and one of each from season 16 (Chacko George and Janet Wong).
- The three finalists in the season 26 tournament previously went up against each other in the quarterfinals.
- There are two Tournament of Champions who also won earlier tournaments. Tom Cubbage won the season 5 College Championship and the season 6 Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions and Colby Burnett won both the Season 29 Teachers Tournament and Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions.
- Marvin Shinkman and Lionel Goldbart from the season 3 tournament knew each other from 30+ years prior to the tournament when they attended Brooklyn College at the same time.
References and notes
- Wallenstein, Andrew (2008-01-08). "Sony TV gets celebs' help in digital push". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
- 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-player format used on the current show. We had 15 undefeated 5-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."
- Most episodes from the Art Fleming era of Jeopardy! do not survive, so there is no video record of these Tournament of Champions games; paper records indicating the players may be found in the NBC Master Books daily broadcast log, available on microfilm at the Library of Congress Motion Picture and Television Reading Room. A summary of those records may be found here. A listing of Jeopardy! Grand Champions, 1968–1974, may be found in Fabe, Maxene (1979). TV Game Shows. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company. p. 13. ISBN 0-385-13052-X.
- "Swarthmore’s ‘Jeopardy!’ Hall of Fame". 2014-07. Retrieved 2014-08-18.
- A Piece of "Jeopardy!" Trivia - Sony Pictures
- Ryan Holznagel later represented the United States in the 1996 International Tournament, losing in the semifinals.
- Michael Daunt represented Canada in the 1997 International Tournament in Sweden, and won.
- Robin Carroll later represented the United States in the 2001 International Tournament in Las Vegas, and won.
- Celeste DiNucci won a tie breaker against Christian Haines in the second semifinal game.
- The official JEOPARDY! website
- List of JEOPARDY! Tournament of Champions winners
- Official JEOPARDY! 2013 Tournament of Champions website