Brad Rutter

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Brad Rutter
BornBradford Gates Rutter
(1978-01-31) January 31, 1978 (age 40)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.
ResidenceLos Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActor, TV host, game show contestant
Known forHighest-earning Jeopardy! contestant (US$4,455,102)
Highest-earning American game show contestant (US$4,555,102)
Home townLancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Bradford Gates Rutter (born January 31, 1978) is the highest-earning contestant on the U.S. syndicated game show Jeopardy! and also the highest-earning American game show contestant of all time.

In 19 regular season and tournament games, Rutter has never lost a Jeopardy! match against a human opponent (though he twice trailed at the end of the first game of a two-day tournament match before coming back to win in the second game). In 2011, both Rutter and Ken Jennings (another holder, at various times, of the all-time money winning record for Jeopardy! and for game shows) were routed in a two-day exhibition match against an IBM computer platform developed specifically to compete on Jeopardy!: Watson.[1] Rutter finished third in the match: both his first defeat overall and the first time he finished behind a human opponent. Because the man versus machine match was declared an exhibition match, none of the records from this match count towards official show records.

Personal life[edit]

Until 2007, Rutter lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he hosted InQuizitive, a local broadcast quiz show for high school students.[2] He has also been a reader and judge for the high school National Academic Championship. He now lives in Los Angeles where he is pursuing acting.

Rutter is a 1995 graduate of Manheim Township High School in Neffsville, Pennsylvania, where he was on the quiz bowl team. The team won second place at the 1994 Texaco Star National Academic Championship.[3] He is one of the 19 people to have been named to the National Academic Championship Hall of Fame in its 25-year history.[4] At the 2005 Manheim Township High School graduation ceremony, he announced the start of a scholarship fund in memory of his late high-school quiz bowl coach, Miss Ann Clouser.

Rutter has described himself as a "slacker" in school and a Johns Hopkins dropout (while there, he studied English).[5] Before his success on Jeopardy!, he worked at the Lancaster Coconuts record store.

Jeopardy! winnings[edit]

Rutter first appeared on Jeopardy! in October 2000, when the rules stipulated that a contestant who won five consecutive days retired undefeated[6] and was guaranteed a spot in the Tournament of Champions. Rutter retired as an undefeated 5-day champion, with $55,102 in winnings (he was also awarded a choice of Chevrolet cars of which he picked 2 Chevrolet Camaros; at the time, Jeopardy awarded new cars to 5-day undefeated champions). The rules would be changed in 2003, before Ken Jennings's run of 74 consecutive days in 2004, making Jennings the (then) all-time Jeopardy! money winner.

As a 5-day champion, Rutter was invited to the 2001 Tournament of Champions, where he defeated other 5-day champions and won the $100,000 main prize.[7] He was invited back for the 2002 Million Dollar Masters Tournament, where he won the $1,000,000 main prize and became the all-time money winner in Jeopardy! history.

Rutter returned for the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions, winning the tournament and $2,100,000. After his 2005 tournament win, in which he defeated Jennings and Jerome Vered in the finals, Rutter surpassed Jennings as the highest money-winner ever on American game shows. Jennings later regained his record by 2008 after appearing on various other game shows. There is a minor discrepancy between sources as to Rutter's total Jeopardy! winnings stemming from the prize structure of the Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Those who won the first round earned $15,000, but Rutter was among nine top winners who received a first round bye. While some analysts suggest that Rutter's money totals should include $15,000 for a first round 'win' in this tournament, the official website does not count this $15,000 when stating that Rutter's winnings were $3,255,102 after the completion of this tournament.[8]

From February 14–16, 2011, the Jeopardy! IBM Challenge featured IBM's Watson facing off against Rutter and Jennings in a two-game cumulative total match aired over three days.[9] This was the first ever man-versus-machine competition in Jeopardy!'s history. The computer program, equipped with a precisely timed mechanical "thumb", won handily, finishing with a $77,147 score, while Jennings took second place with a score of $24,000 over Rutter's $21,600 score. IBM donated its $1 million purse to two charities. Jennings and Rutter did likewise with half of their respective winnings of $300,000 and $200,000. Rutter kept $100,000 and donated the other $100,000 to the Lancaster County Community Foundation.[10]

Rutter participated in the Jeopardy! 2014 Battle of the Decades, pitting top champions from throughout the previous 30 years of Jeopardy!, where he won the tournament and $1,000,000.[11] With this win, Rutter regained the record as the highest money-winner ever on American game shows, which Jennings had held since 2008.

Other game show appearances[edit]

He appeared on the U.S. game show 1 vs. 100 (as a member of "the Mob") on December 1, 2006, and again on December 8, 2006. He answered every question correctly and was one of only seven mob members to survive to the next show, as was Annie Duke. He would eventually be eliminated on the December 15 episode, on a question about Jewish reggae musician Matisyahu. He appeared again on February 9, 2007, and was eliminated late into a winner-takes-$250,000 "last man standing" competition, but before Ken Jennings. Rutter was the top seed in Grand Slam, but lost in the second round to Ogi Ogas, a former Who Wants to Be a Millionaire contestant.

Rutter competed in the 2010 World Quizzing Championship, where he finished 140th. He was also a contestant on the 6th episode of Million Dollar Mind Game (aired on November 27, 2011), where his team won $600,000. In May 2012, he did a pilot episode as a "Chaser" for the American version of the British game show The Chase. Fox network ordered two pilots for consideration in its lineup. The Chaser in the other pilot was Mark Labbett, who is one of the five Chasers on both the British and Australian versions of the show. Despite the show not being picked up by Fox, it was later picked by GSN, with Labbett as the only Chaser.

Later pursuits[edit]

Rutter subsequently moved to southern California to pursue a career as an actor and TV host.

He also appeared in the 1990s week of the 2014 Battle of the Decades tournament hosted by Jeopardy! as part of its 30th-anniversary commemoration. He won the March 7, 2014, game against Mike Dupee and Jill Bunzendahl Chimka. He then appeared in the quarterfinals of the tournament again on May 7 against Dan Pawson and Mark M. Lowenthal, and won the game in a lock. On May 13, he defeated Leszek Pawlowicz and Tom Cubbage in the semifinals. Following that, on May 16, 2014, he also defeated Ken Jennings and Roger Craig and went on to win the tournament and $1,000,000. As a result, he became the biggest game show winner in world television history.

In 2017, he competed in a Los Angeles citywide pub tournament as part of Team of Enchantment (along with Brian Fodera, Matthew Frost, Pam Mueller, Jerome Vered and Hans von Walter), taking home his share of a $10,000 prize.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "IBM's "Watson" Computing System to Challenge All Time Greatest Jeopardy! Champions". Jeopardy Productions. 2010-12-14. Archived from the original on 2013-06-16.
  2. ^ Lawrence Van Gelder (May 27, 2005). "Arts, Briefly: 'Jeopardy!' Titans Battle". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-04. But in the culmination of a three-round battle of former champions, he finished second on Wednesday night to Brad Rutter, a former record store clerk from Lancaster, Pa. Mr. Rutter, now the host of his own local quiz show, beat Mr. Jennings in all three games, winning a total of $62,000 to Mr. Jennings's $34,599, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Rutter, who won $1 million on Jeopardy! in 2002, received an additional $2 million for his latest win, achieved on Wednesday in a test of rapid responses to questions about Belgian and Asian history, Latin, poets, rocks and sports.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "2008 NATIONAL ACADEMIC CHAMPIONSHIP HIGHLIGHTS". QUnlimited. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
  5. ^ Alfred Lubrano (June 12, 2005). "Quiz-show whiz has stopped coasting". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2010-10-09. The 27-year-old Johns Hopkins University dropout and former record-store worker beat quiz-show legend Ken Jennings on Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions on May 25, winning $2 million. Add that to the Jeopardy! booty he has scored since he first played the game in 2000, and his total is $3,255,102, making Rutter the biggest TV game-show winner in history, according to the show's people.
  6. ^ "Jeopardy! Premieres Milestone 20th Anniversary Season September 8, 2003: America's Favorite Quiz Show Launches Season 20 With Many Exciting and Historic "Firsts"" (Press release). King World. September 4, 2003. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved November 29, 2006.
  7. ^ Stauffer, Cindy (May 1, 2002). "Manheim Twp. man back in 'Jeopardy!' in Million Dollar Masters Tournament". Lancaster New Era. p. B-4.
  8. ^ "Did You Know..." from
  9. ^ "Smartest Machine on Earth" Archived February 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.; retrieved 14 February 2011.
  10. ^ Markoff, John (2010-12-16). "On 'Jeopardy', Watson's a Natural". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-16.
  11. ^ Bill Toland. "A: He beat the best. Q: Who is Brad Rutter?" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 27, 2005. A1.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Robin Carroll
Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions winner
Succeeded by
Mark Dawson
Preceded by
Bruce Seymour
Ken Jennings
All-time Jeopardy! champion
Succeeded by
Ken Jennings
Preceded by
Ken Jennings
Ken Jennings
All-time American game show winnings leader
Succeeded by
Ken Jennings
Preceded by
Mark Dawson
2003 Tournament of Champions
Highest cumulative tournament finals total
Ultimate Tournament of Champions

Succeeded by
Rachel Rothenberg
2009 Teen Tournament