The late Alex Trebek on the Jeopardy! set

Sony Television

Recent Jeopardy! champion Mattea Roach

Sony Television
Fill 1
Fill 1
March 29, 2024
Online Originals

Jeopardy! By the Numbers

A look back at the long-running game show's mark on TV history.

Mara Reinstein

In 1963, the quiz show was DOA.

Host, producer, singer and occasional actor Merv Griffin lamented this fact to his wife, Julann, as he was devising ideas for a new TV game. As he explained it, networks wouldn't touch them in the aftermath of the 1950s rigging scandals of The $64,000 Question and 21. Then Julann came up with the solution: Give contestants the answers and ask them to come up with the questions. Griffin sold the concept, originally titled What's the Question?, to NBC without creating a pilot.

That's the long-winded, albeit correct, reply to "This is how Jeopardy! made it to the air 60 years ago." It wasn't phrased in the form of a question, and not a penny was wagered, so no cash prize. Though, to be fair, generations of fans have already won.

An institution as much as a game show, Jeopardy! is the ultimate entertainment showcase for trivia nerds of all levels. Iconic champions have become as famous as pro athletes. Saturday Night Live has spoofed it in some form since the 1990s. But the show's success lies in its old-fashioned simplicity: Since Art Fleming hosted the first episode on March 30, 1964, the format — including three contestants, three rounds, three Daily Doubles and the Griffin-penned Final Jeopardy theme "Think" in about 30 fast-paced minutes — has scarcely changed. Perhaps that's why, despite a bumpy transition following the 2020 death of beloved host Alex Trebek, Jeopardy! remains a must-watch.

In celebration of the game show's 60th anniversary, here's a by-the-numbers rundown:

Daytime Emmy nominations: 74

Daytime Emmy wins: 32, the most in game-show history

Emmy wins for Alex Trebek, who hosted from 1984 to 2020: 8, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011

Official Jeopardy! hosts: 5 (Fleming, Trebek, Mike Richards, Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik)

Seasons that Fleming hosted: 11, plus the 1978-79 The All-New Jeopardy!

Episodes that Richards hosted in 2021 before getting ousted for previous controversial comments: 5

Jeopardy! episodes hosted by Pat Sajak: 1 (in 1997, as an April Fool's Day joke)

Number of times Will Ferrell played Trebek on SNL's "Celebrity Jeopardy!" sketch: 15 (1996-2015)

Number of times Trebek appeared on SNL: 1 (in 2002)

Jeopardy! announcers: 2 (Don Pardo and Johnny Gilbert)

Age of Johnny Gilbert: 95

All-Time total winnings, including tournaments: $4,953,436 (by Brad Rutter)

All-Time total winnings, before cash amounts were doubled in 2001: $205,194 (by Frank Spangenberg)

Highest cash winnings in a single game: $131,127 (by James Holzhauer in 2019)

Second-highest cash winnings in a single game: $130,022 (by Holzhauer in 2019)

Third-highest cash winnings is a single game: $118,116 (by Holzhauer in 2019)

Highest cash winnings for a runner-up: $52,001 (by Andrew He in 2001)

Lowest cash winnings: -$7,400 (by Patrick Pearce in 2021)

Money won by third-place contestant, regardless of final score: $1,000 (the runner-up takes home $2,000)

Money lost by Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) in Final Jeopardy in the immortal 1990 Cheers episode, "What is . . . Cliff Clavin?": "$22,000 big ones!"

Longest champion streak: 74 games (by Jennings in 2004)

Number of Jennings' "runaway games" before Final Jeopardy: 64

Second-longest champion streak: 40 games (by Amy Schneider, 2021-22)

Season that Jeopardy! retired its five-day winners rule: 20th

Seasons in which there were no five-day winners: 1 (Season 32)

Games in which there was no winner: 7

Episodes that Jeopardy! films in a single day: 5

Days that Jeopardy! is usually in production per year: 46, per

Oscar winners who have competed in Celebrity Jeopardy!: 2 (Jodie Foster and Mira Sorvino)

Celebrity Jeopardy! winners who have competed against "regular" contestants: 1 (Ike Barinholtz in 2024's Tournament of Champions)

Reported numerical Final Jeopardy wagers banned by Jeopardy! producers because of its scandalous connotations: 5 ($69, $666, $14, $88 and $1,488)

Game shows produced by Merv Griffin Enterprises: 12 (including Wheel of Fortune and Monopoly)

Griffin's estimated royalty earnings for composing "Think": $80 million, per The New York Times

Number of Television Academy employees that were Jeopardy! contestants: 1, Marc Wade.

Browser Requirements
The sites look and perform best when using a modern browser.

We suggest you use the latest version of any of these browsers:


Visiting the site with Internet Explorer or other browsers may not provide the best viewing experience.

Close Window