Bradford Gates Rutter
January 31, 1978
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Education||Manheim Township High School|
|Alma mater||Johns Hopkins University (did not graduate)|
|Known for||Highest-earning Jeopardy! contestant (US$5,053,436)|
2nd Highest-earning American game show contestant (US$5,153,436), behind Ken Jennings
Bradford Gates Rutter (born January 31, 1978) is an American game show contestant, TV host, producer, and actor. With over $5.1 million in winnings, he is currently the 2nd highest-earning American game show contestant of all time, behind Ken Jennings, and still the highest-earning contestant (primarily from special tournament events) on the U.S. syndicated game show Jeopardy! (with over $5 million).
Until Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time in 2020, Rutter had 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). This streak comprised his original 5-day run in 2000, as well as 17 matches in five tournaments—all of which he (or his team) won. In 2011, both Rutter and Ken Jennings (another holder, at various times, of the all-time money 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. 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, none of the records from it count toward official show records.
Until 2009, Rutter lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he hosted InQuizitive, a local broadcast quiz show for high school students. 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. He is one of the 19 people to have been named to the National Academic Championship Hall of Fame in its 25-year history. 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, Anne Clouser.
Rutter first appeared on Jeopardy! on October 30, 2000, when the rules stipulated that a contestant who won five consecutive days retired undefeated 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 two Chevrolet Camaros; at the time, Jeopardy awarded new cars to 5-day undefeated champions). The rules were changed in 2003, before Ken Jennings' run of 74 consecutive days in 2004, which made Jennings the largest overall 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. He was invited back for the 2002 Million Dollar Masters Tournament, where he won the $1,000,000 main prize and became the largest overall money winner in Jeopardy! history.
Rutter returned for the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions, winning the tournament and $2,115,000. 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. Players who won in 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 Jeopardy.com website does not count it (when stating that Rutter's winnings were $3,255,102 after the completion of this tournament).
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. It 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 donated $100,000 to the Lancaster County Community Foundation.
Rutter participated in the Jeopardy! 2014 Battle of the Decades, pitting top champions from throughout the previous 30 years of Jeopardy!. He appeared in the 1990s week of the tournament. He won the March 7, 2014, game against Mike Dupee and Jill Bunzendahl Chimka. He then appeared in the quarterfinals of the tournament on May 7, 2014 against Dan Pawson and Mark M. Lowenthal and won the game in a lock. On May 13, 2014, he defeated Leszek Pawlowicz and Tom Cubbage in the semifinals. On May 16, 2014, he won the tournament and $1,000,000, defeating Ken Jennings and Roger Craig in the finale after the former missed the Final Jeopardy! clue. With this win, Rutter regained the record as the highest money-winner on American game shows, which Jennings had held since 2008.
Rutter competed in the Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time event in January 2020 against Jennings and James Holzhauer, and ended up winning $250,000 with a third place finish to Jennings and Holzhauer.
Other game show appearances
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 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 in a winner-takes-$250,000 "last man standing" competition, but before Ken Jennings was. 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 an 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, 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 aired by GSN, with Labbett (the Beast) as the only Chaser.
In May 2020, Rutter appeared on a revival of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire as an in-person lifeline for celebrity contestant Catherine O'Hara. On the show, celebrities playing for charity were allowed to have an expert assist them in answering the first 10 questions—Rutter served as O'Hara's expert and helped her answer each of the 10 questions correctly. After this point, O'Hara made the decision to trade her 50:50 lifeline for the opportunity to consult Rutter once more on any of the remaining questions. She took this opportunity on the $125,000 question, which he once again helped her answer correctly. O'Hara's final total on the show was $250,000, as she chose to walk away from the $500,000 question.
Rutter subsequently[when?] moved to Southern California to pursue a career as an actor and TV host.
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.
- "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.
- 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.
- "1994 Manheim Township – QBWiki". www.qbwiki.com.
- "2008 NATIONAL ACADEMIC CHAMPIONSHIP HIGHLIGHTS". QUnlimited. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
- 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.
- "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.
- Stauffer, Cindy (May 1, 2002). "Manheim Twp. man back in 'Jeopardy!' in Million Dollar Masters Tournament". Lancaster New Era. p. B-4.
- "Did You Know..." Archived 2013-06-16 at the Wayback Machine from Jeopardy.com
- "Smartest Machine on Earth" Archived February 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine; retrieved 14 February 2011.
- Markoff, John (2010-12-16). "On 'Jeopardy', Watson's a Natural". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-16.
- Tornoe, Rob. "Ken Jennings wins the "Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time" tournament". Inquirer. Inquirer. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
- Wright, Mary Ellen (May 8, 2020). "Brad Rutter helps actress win more than $30K, so far, on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire". LancasterOnline. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
- Tinwala, Yasmin (May 14, 2020). "Catherine O'Hara rakes in $250k, turns highest-winning celebrity on the show". MEAWW. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
| Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions winner
| All-time Jeopardy! champion
| All-time American game show winnings leader
2003 Tournament of Champions
| Highest cumulative Jeopardy! tournament finals total
Ultimate Tournament of Champions
2009 Teen Tournament