Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer: Who are Jeopardy! contestants vying for GOAT title?

James Holzhauer on Jeopardy!
Jeopardy! contestant James Holzhauer. Pic credit: Washington Post/YouTube

Jeopardy! top winners Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauer, are set to face off in a special prime time tournament to determine who is the greatest Jeopardy! player of all time.

ABC announced on Monday that Holzhauer, who just won the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, and two other top winners of the long-running show, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, will face off in a prime-time Greatest of All Time (GOAT) tournament on ABC in January.

The Greatest of All Time tournament will feature two back-to-back games aired on consecutive nights at 8 EST, starting on January 7. The winner is the player who has the highest total winnings from the two games.

The games, hosted by Alex Trebek, will continue on successive nights (save Monday) until one of the three contestants wins three matches. The first player to win three matches will be declared the show’s GOAT and will take home a $1 million prize, while the others win $250,000 each.

“When James had his run last year, a lot of people were wondering, well how would he do against Ken Jennings? How would he do against Brad Rutter? (They’re) our two most successful players in ‘Jeopardy!’ history,” host Alex Trebek said. “Based on their previous performances, these three are already the ‘greatest,’  but you can’t help wondering: who is the best of the best?”

Who is Brad Rutter?

Rutter, 41, a local quiz show host from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is the highest-overall earning contestant on Jeopardy! with $4.6 million ($4,603,435) amassed over 21 regular season and tournament games.

He attended Manheim Township High School in Neffsville, Pennsylvania. He dropped out of John Hopkins, where he was studying English.

Who is Ken Jennings?

Ken Jennings is a computer scientist born in Edmonds, Washington, in May 1974. His father worked overseas when he was a child, and he spent part of his early years in Seoul and Singapore.

He is the second highest-earning contestant on Jeopardy! with a total of $2.52 million ($2,520,700) in 74 wins. He also holds the record for the longest winning streak on the game show.

Who is James Holzhauer?

Holzhauer, 35, is a professional sports gambler and math major from the University of Illinois. He was born in July 1984 in Naperville, Illinois, and showed remarkable math abilities early in life.

He set and shattered single-game winnings records multiple times from April-June, peaking at $131,127, and winning a total of $2.46 million during a stunning 32-game winning streak.

His winning streak ended after he was defeated in June by Emma Boettcher, a University of Chicago librarian.

He lost after amassing a total of $2,464,216 in 33 appearances from April to June 2019. This made him the third-highest overall earning contestant ever on Jeopardy! surpassed only by Brad Rutter ($4,603,435) and Ken Jennings ($2,520,700).

The announcement of the Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time tournament comes after host Trebek, 79, revealed he’d been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. He underwent chemotherapy, and despite his health concerns, he chose to return to the show.

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