6 Quirky ‘Jeopardy!’ Contestants We’ve Loved Over the Years

'Jeopardy!' Quirky Contestants, Austin Rogers, Julia Markham Cameron, Dana Venator
Jeopady! on Youtube; CBS

Throughout the show’s 38 seasons, Jeopardy! has seen many intelligent contestants compete on the legendary quiz show. While many have cemented themselves in the show’s history for breaking records, others remain memorable for different reasons.

Game shows are only as interesting as their contestants, and the long-running competition has seen several “quirky” contestants leave their mark on audiences, guest hosts, and former frontman Alex Trebek. Below, we’re looking back at some of the most interesting Jeopardy! contestants over the years that we just can’t forget.

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Austin Rogers

First appearing in 2017, this bartender from New York City won audiences over with his hilarious intros and positive demeanor, in addition to being one of the most successful contestants throughout the show’s history. Rogers broke several Jeopardy! records during his 12-day winning streak before well-known champion James Holzhauer beat them, including two of the highest one-day totals at $69,000 and $65,600, as well as the highest Final Jeopardy wager with $34,000. He has since appeared in several tournaments, and we’d love to see him return for more.

Dana Venator

Appearing in the first-ever Teen Tournament in 1987, Trebek named Venator as his favorite contestant interview in his memoir The Answer Is . . .: Reflections on My Life. The host was charmed by the teen’s genuine personality, odd hobbies, and self-proclaimed “bad poetry.” She returned for the 1998 Teen Reunion Tournament, studying as a graduate student at the University of Chicago at the time. Though she has remained quiet since her time on the show, we hope to one day hear the beloved contestant’s “The Life of a Dorito” poem.

Julia Markham Cameron

One of the most recent contestants on this list, Cameron garnered lots of media attention during her first appearance on June 3, 2021, for her over-the-top and enthusiastic facial expressions. While not every Jeopardy! fan was amused by her expressiveness, the New York attorney managed to take home $26,250 over her 3-episode, 2-win stint on the show. We bet this isn’t the last we’ll see of the animated contestant!

Sarah Jett Rayburn

This four-day champ broke one of the show’s “unspoken” rules in a charming way, interrupting Trebek to explain her incorrect Final Jeopardy answer. After reading her incorrect response, she chimed in with her second guess, which ended up being the correct answer. Though he was surprised, Trebek went along with it until she cut herself off, saying, “Sorry, I shouldn’t be talking now.” Though the act left fans with mixed feelings, the polite and genuine interaction makes us curious how she would act around the show’s current guest hosts.

Matt Jackson

Ranking seventh on the highest winnings list during regular-season play, Jackson is perhaps best known for his speedy answers, slow smiles during contestant intros, and his memorable “Boom!” catchphrase. Perhaps one of the most intelligent contestants the show has ever seen, the paralegal ended his debut run with a 13-day winning streak before returning for the 2015 Tournament of Champions. If Jackson returned for more tournament play, who knows what records he could break next!

Laura Ashby

This 2-time champ left fans scratching their heads, as many were unable to place her indiscernible accent. The Georgia native’s enthralling enunciation was particularly noticeable when stating the money amounts of each question, particularly with the words “thousand” and “hundred.” Since winning $36,802 during her 3-episode run, she has not returned to the quiz show, but we think fans would love to see (and hear) the memorable contestant again!

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