Frank Spangenberg

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Frank Spangenberg
Born (1957-07-26) July 26, 1957 (age 61)
Known for Jeopardy! champion; all-time five-day winnings record holder ($205,194 adjusted to 2001 scoring)

Lieutenant Frank Spangenberg (born July 26, 1957) garnered fame in 1990 when he set the five-day cumulative winnings record on the game show Jeopardy!, becoming the first person to win more than $100,000 in five days on the show.[1] He has been called one of the "veritable legends" of the show.[2]


Spangenberg, at the time a member of the New York City Transit Police Department (now the Transit Bureau of the New York City Police Department), won $102,597 in five days. On his fifth and final appearance, he set a one-day record of $30,600. Prior to 2003, winners were retired after five consecutive victories and due to a winnings cap in place on Jeopardy! at the time, Spangenberg was only able to keep $75,000 of his total winnings; he donated the remaining $27,597 to the Gift of Love Hospice, a facility operated by the Missionaries of Charity.[3] According to Spangenberg, his donation arrived at the facility the day after the hospice learned it needed to install a safety system that totaled approximately the same amount as his excess winnings.[4] The five-day record remains a net record because of rule changes in 2001 regarding the value of clues, and in 2003 eliminating the five-appearance limit. Contestants must win $205,194 in their first five days in order to break the record. No contestant since Spangenberg's run in 1990 has won more than $100,000 (until 2001) or $200,000 (after 2001) in five days since then.

Shortly after he won his first five games in 1990, he appeared on Late Night with David Letterman and played the Jeopardy! home game on the show with Dave. He would also later appear on its successor program The Late Show as a member of the New York City Transit Department choir.

Spangenberg also won Jeopardy!'s Tenth Anniversary Tournament in 1993, winning $41,800,[5] and earlier appeared in the 1990 Tournament of Champions (winning $5,000 for being a semifinalist) and Super Jeopardy! (winning $5,000 for being a quarterfinalist), then later in the 2002 Jeopardy! Million Dollar Masters (winning $10,000 for being a quarterfinalist) and 2005 Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions tournaments. He won an additional $105,199 in the Ultimate Tournament of Champions, which, when combined with his original appearances and other tournament winnings, increased his grand total to $269,596.[citation needed] Spangenberg was also a participant in Jeopardy's Battle of the Decades tournament, and is the only contestant to appear in all five of Jeopardy's all-time best tournaments.

In 2007, Spangenberg was one of sixteen former game show contestants invited to participate in GSN's Grand Slam tournament. Seeded twelfth in the tournament, Spangenberg was matched up with former United States Navy officer David Legler, who had won a then-record setting $1.765 million on Twenty One in 2000. Spangenberg only won one of the three rounds of play against Legler and lost after his allotted time ran out.

In February 2014, Spangenberg was invited back for the Jeopardy! Battle of the Decades. Mark Lowenthal won the game and became a quarterfinalist, while Spangenberg finished second and attorney Phoebe Juel finished third. Both runners-up received $5000 as a consolation prize.

External links[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Final 'Jeopardy!' For Ace City Cop". New York Daily News. May 19, 2005. Retrieved 2010-10-04. Spangenberg, 47, came up short in the TV quiz show's "Ultimate Tournament of Champions" semifinal round, losing to Los Angeles screenwriter Jerome Vered. ... In 1990, Spangenberg won more than $100,000 on "Jeopardy!" [permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Lynn Elber. Associated Press. "Book details joy of 'Jeopardy!'". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. October 11, 2006. 8B.
  3. ^ Official Sony Pictures Spangenberg 2016 interview video
  4. ^ "Frank Spangenberg'S $27,597 Gift". Retrieved 2017-02-09. 
  5. ^ "After the Headlines; Fame, Fleeting Fame, Found These New Yorkers. Then What Happened?". The New York Times. Dec 27, 1998. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
Preceded by
Brian Wangsgard
Biggest Jeopardy! winners by season
Succeeded by
Mark Born
Preceded by
Garrett Simpson
Biggest one-day winners on Jeopardy! by season
Succeeded by
Mark Born
Preceded by
Bob Blake
Biggest Jeopardy! regular play winnings leader (5 days)
$102,597 (1984-2001 values)
$205,194 (adjusted to 2001 rule change)
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Kevin Frear and Bob Blake
1988 and 1989
Biggest one-day winner on Jeopardy!

Succeeded by
Jerome Vered
Preceded by
Bruce Seymour
Super Jeopardy!
Best of the best Jeopardy! Tournament winner
Tenth Anniversary Tournament
Succeeded by
Brad Rutter
Million Dollar Masters

NOTE: The largest regular play winnings record is based only on a contestant's first five days (until 2003, contestants were retired after five wins), and contestants must reach $205,194 in their first five days to break the record (in 2001 clue vales doubled).