Ken reportedly walks away from the show after 75 appearances and $2.5 million

By Stephen M. Silverman
September 09, 2004 12:00 PM

The Jeopardy! winning streak of Ken Jennings may be over. TV Week magazine is reporting that the Utah software engineer finally loses in an episode taped Tuesday – after 75 games and $2.5 million in his bank account.

The episode in which he finally loses will not air until the fall.

Reps for the show are not commenting on the report. But the loss would end a streak that turned Jennings, 30, into a star and helped boost the long-running game show’s ratings. His TV exposure branched out from Jeopardy! to include visits to ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman, where he delivered the Top 10 list.

Jennings’s run of luck and skill (“A lot of it is just God-given memory that I can’t take any credit for”) started airing June 2. Shows are filmed in advance, with a week’s worth done in a single day.

“I remember the first time I was watching Diane Sawyer mention me,” Jennings told the Associated Press in July. “Suddenly hearing her say, ‘Ken Jennings,’ it was very surreal. It’s a little weird to me I get recognized in the grocery store, and Letterman’s calling.”

A Seattle native who grew up in South Korea (his father works for an international law firm in Seoul) Jennings watched Jeopardy! on the U.S. Armed Forces TV network and thought to himself, “Hey, maybe you could go on Jeopardy. You’re not half bad at it.”

That proved to be an understatement, and his record on the show should prove very hard to beat.

Jennings expects to invest his winnings for his wife, Mindy, and their 11/2-year-old son, Dylan. There was a splurge or two, he admitted, though it is not yet known whether he took a proposed trip to Europe.