Every Winning Streak On Jeopardy

Exploring streaks on Jeopardy since the 5-day win cap was removed

Shri Khalpada

Shri Khalpada

There aren't many institutions as timeless as Jeopardy. I've always been fascinated by the idea that a simple show with 61 trivia questions (or answers?) can endure on primetime television for generations, seemingly unwavering in its appeal and position as a cultural force. Even for someone who is average at trivia, and that's being generous, I always try to tune in because I learn something new and because the format feels so familiar and comfortable.

Although the show's design has remain largely unchanged, viewers have noticed a big change watching over the last couple years: there are way more long winning streaks. For some historical context, Jeopardy changed its rules in 2003 from retiring players automatically after 5 wins to letting players play until they lost. I wanted to see how the winning streaks in Jeopardy evolved over time, so I put together the following visualization using data from the phenomenal J! Archive.

Jeopardy Streaks

We can see a clear increase in the number of long streaks in more recent seasons, with 6 of the last 12 "super-champs" coming in the last 3 seasons (a super-champ is colloquially defined as a player with at least 10 wins).

Here is an alternative view of the same data which further highlights the winnings:

Jeopardy Streaks

The Ringer does a great job exploring the potential reasons for this proliferation of long streaks in this article. Some key reasons seem to include the introduction of the Anytime Test, which increases the contestant pool, and an increased focus on preparation and game theory potentially spearheaded by James Holzhauer's iconic run in season 35.

The visualization is designed to show trends over the course of thousands of games of Jeopardy, but if you're specifically curious about how the super-champs compare with each other, here are some numbers:

Ken Jennings74$2,520,70020-21
Amy Schneider40$1,382,80038
Matt Amodio38$1,518,60137-38
James Holzhauer32$2,462,21635
Mattea Roach23$560,98338
Cris Pannulo21$710,86539
Julia Collins20$428,10030
Jason Zuffranieri19$532,49635-36
David Madden19$430,40021-22
Ryan Long16$299,40038
Matt Jackson13$413,61232
Ray Lalonde13$386,40039
Austin Rogers12$411,00034
Seth Wilson12$265,00233
Arthur Chu11$298,20030
Jonathan Fischer11$246,10038

We appreciate all of your support for PerThirtySix! You can follow us on Twitter at @PerThirtySixers or author Shri Khalpada at @ShriKhalpada.

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