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.
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. It was held every year during Art Fleming's hosting run and has been held roughly once a year, with some exceptions, during Alex Trebek's hosting run.
The daily syndicated version's Tournament of Champions field consists of the winner(s) of any College Championships and Teachers Tournaments that occurred in the period since the last Tournament of Champions, with the remainder of the field of 15 comprising the champions who have won the most games (with a minimum of three games to qualify). Champions with an equal number of wins are further ranked by total money earned in their wins (excluding the consolation prizes awarded in the game they lose). The Tournament of Champions lasts two weeks over ten episodes in a format devised by Trebek himself in 1985. 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; the first runner-up is guaranteed $100,000; and the second runner-up receives $50,000. 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.
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 ten-episode tournament structured similarly to the Tournament of Champions. The tournament winner receives a top prize of $100,000. 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. At least one similar tournament was held in May 1967 during Fleming's run, with the winner (out of nine high school seniors who competed) receiving a $10,000 scholarship.
Since 1989, Jeopardy! has held an annual College Championship. Fifteen full-time undergraduate students with no previous degrees, hailing from colleges and universities throughout the United States, compete in a ten-game format like that used for the Tournament of Champions and the Teen Tournament. The College Championship winner receives a top prize of $100,000 as well as an automatic position in the next Tournament of Champions.
In May 2011, to mark its 6,000th Trebek-era episode, Jeopardy! introduced its Teachers Tournament featuring 15 full-time teachers of students in kindergarten through grade 12. 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.
From 1987 to 1995, Jeopardy! featured 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 a top prize of at least $25,000. The tournament winner also received an automatic spot in the Tournament of Champions. Since the tournament's discontinuance, contestants over the age of 50 have regularly appeared on Jeopardy! in non-tournament games.
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,Bill Cullen, Art James, and Peter Marshall. On the Trebek version, Celebrity Jeopardy! traditionally had been broadcast annually as a weeklong event in the 1990s before becoming increasingly sparse and irregular in the 2000s and 2010s. On occasion there has been a special version of this event, 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. The last two celebrity tournaments were held in 2010 and in May 2015. The last "Power Players Week" was held in DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. in May 2016. "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 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. The second- and third-place contestants receive consolation prizes of $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. The last Kids Week episodes aired in 2014.
Two Jeopardy! events have been scheduled outside the show's usual syndication run, both on ABC: the first aired in 1990 and the second in 2020. ABC Owned Television Stations group has been the lead broadcaster of the syndicated version for most of its run.
Super Jeopardy! was a special summer series that premiered on June 16, 1990. It was the first attempt during Alex Trebek's hosting run to gather the series' best contestants up to that date.
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 $10,000.
The finals of the tournament aired on September 8, 1990, and pitted 1987 Tournament of Champions winner Bob Verini and finalist Dave Traini against 1988 Tournament of Champions quarterfinalist and four-day champion Bruce Seymour in a one-day final match where the winner received $250,000. Traini finished in negative territory and could not play Final Jeopardy!, which meant he automatically finished third and won $25,000. Seymour, leading entering Final Jeopardy!, correctly answered the final clue and won the top prize. Verini, who did not answer correctly, finished second and won $50,000.
Announced on November 18, 2019 and aired beginning January 7, 2020, the tournament featured contestants Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauer competing in a tournament with a top prize of $1 million. The tournament was structured as first-to-three-wins format over a series of one-hour episodes, with each episode a stand-alone match consisting of two back-to-back complete Jeopardy! games, using points instead of dollars. Ken Jennings won the tournament in four matches, with James Holzhauer winning one match and Brad Rutter winning none. As the tournament winner, Jennings was named "The Greatest of All Time" and won $1 million. The two non-winners received $250,000 each.
From November 29, 1993 to December 3, 1993, Jeopardy! held a special one-week 10th Anniversary Tournament to honor the Trebek version's tenth anniversary, which featured one Tournament of Champions-qualified contestant from each of the nine completed seasons to that point. Rather than pre-select notable contestants, the event uniquely featured contestants randomly drawn from each season during episodes four weeks prior to the event (with the exception of Tom Nosek, whose 1993 Tournament of Champions victory the week before guaranteed him a berth). Contestants competed for a winner's prize of a combined two-day final score total plus a $25,000 bonus. The event resembled the show's regular tournaments sans a quarterfinal round, with three semifinal matches to determine three finalists, who then competed 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 earned his or her two-game total plus a $25,000 bonus. 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 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 fifteen former champions to Radio City Music Hall to participate in the two-week Million Dollar Masters Tournament. 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 two-time Teen Tournament winner Eric Newhouse, then-reigning Tournament of Champions winner Brad Rutter, and 1987 Tournament of Champions winner 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, 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. 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 Ken Jennings, who had won the most money in Jeopardy! regular play history at the time; the two finalists and Jennings then played 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, who won all three games and finished with $62,000 for the $2,000,000 prize. Jennings finished second with $34,599 and collected $500,000, while 1992 Tournament of Champions finalist Jerome Vered finished third with $20,600, and took home $250,000. 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 2011 Tournament of Champions winner 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.
The Jeopardy! All-Star Games conducted in 2019 feature a team format in which eighteen champions are split up into six groups of three. The six teams are captained by Jennings, Rutter, Colby Burnett, Buzzy Cohen, Austin Rogers and Julia Collins, who each drafted two players from a pool that included Leonard Cooper, Roger Craig, Jennifer Giles, Ben Ingram, Matt Jackson, Alex Jacob, Larissa Kelly, Alan Lin, David Madden, Pam Mueller, Monica Thieu, and Seth Wilson. The draft was streamed live over Facebook on September 22, 2018, with the games themselves airing from February 20 to March 5, 2019. A concurrent fantasy sweepstakes awarded a prize to a home viewer who selected the highest-grossing three individual contestants in the tournament. Team Colby consisted of Burnett, Mueller and Lin, Team Buzzy consisted of Cohen, Jacob, and Giles, Team Julia consisted of Collins, Ingram, and Wilson, Team Ken consisted of Jennings, Jackson, and Thieu; Team Austin consisted of Rogers, Craig, and Cooper, and Team Brad consisted of Rutter, Kelly, and Madden. Each match was played as a relay; one player on each team played a different round of the game, with the winning trio splitting a $1,000,000 prize. Rutter's team won the contest, with Jennings's team finishing second and splitting $300,000; Burnett's team (the wild card entry) came in third, splitting $100,000.
A special one-week Teen Reunion Tournament held in November 1998 invited back 12 former Teen Tournament contestants from that event's first three installments (1987-1989) 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, who had previously won the 1989 Teen Tournament.
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. The special week of programming was taped on August 12, 2008 and was broadcast from September 15, 2008 to September 19, 2008.
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 winners of each qualifying game returned in May 2010 for three semi-final games, sans Andy Richter due to scheduling conflicts, and he was replaced by the highest scoring quarterfinal runner-up, Isaac Mizrahi. 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.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.
A special three day exhibition match, Jeopardy!s IBM Challenge, aired February 14-16, 2011 and featured IBM's Watson computer facing off against Jennings and Rutter in two games, played over three shows. This was the first man-vs.-machine competition in Jeopardy!'s history. 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). 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. The competition brought the show its highest ratings since the Ultimate Tournament of Champions.
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, save for the inaugural 1996 tournament, which had a one-day final game unlike usual (Ulf Jensen from the Sweden won the inaugural tournament). On the first two tournaments, the winner was awarded $25,000, while the first and second runners-up received $10,000 and $7,500 respectively, with semifinalists receiving $5,000. For the 2001 tournament, the winner's prize (won by American Robin Carroll) was doubled to $50,000, while the two runners-up received $15,000 and $10,000, but the semifinalists continued to receive $5,000.
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 Andreasson, 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. Since Canada did not have its own version of Jeopardy! at the time (instead simulcasting the American version), the 1997 tournament was the only one to feature two contestants from the American show.
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.
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.
Brad Rutter of Lancaster, Penn., earned a total of $1,155,102 after winning a Million Dollar Masters Tournament.
[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.