Why ‘Jeopardy!’ Has Had So Many Super-Champs Just Lately

Amy Schneider, Ray LaLonde, and Cris Pannullo on Jeopardy!
Jeopardy, Inc

Ray Lalonde‘s winning streak came to an end Tuesday, January 3, after an impressive 13-game run and a winning total of $386,400, cementing his spot in the next Tournament of Champions 2023 and making him the latest in a recent flurry of Jeopardy! super-champs.

A scenic artist from Toronto, LaLonde is the second-winningest Canadian contestant ever, placing behind Halifax, Nova Scotia native Mattea Roach, who last year won 23 straight games, putting her in fifth place for the longest streak in the show’s history. Both are among seven players to have won 10 or more games on the show in 2021 or 2022.

Starting with Matt Amodio‘s 38-game winning streak in 2021, Jeopardy! has seen a conveyor belt of super-champs. Amodio’s record was soon broken by Tournament of Champions victor Amy Schneider, who racked up 40 consecutive wins in 2022, placing her second to Ken Jennings (74) on the all-time leaderboard. This was followed by Roach, Ryan Long (16), and Cris Pannullo (21).

So what’s with the recent uptick in super-champs? Blogger Andy Saunders, who runs the website The Jeopardy! Fan, has put this down to changes in the show’s selection process.

“The show lowered its barrier to entry,” Saunders told CBC, referring to how the audition process was altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. This means applications are now accepted year-round rather than during specific windows. The auditions also now take place via video call, rather than show hopefuls having to travel to in-person try-outs.

“There were a lot of people out there who are very good at Jeopardy! and just needed that extra nudge to try out, making it that little bit easier for them,” Saunders explained.

The Jeopardy! superfan also noted that contestants now have longer to get ready for the show. “There have been a few times now where, over the last couple of years, contestants have been called to be on the show, but because of changes in COVID protocols or other issues, those contestants have had to be rescheduled and have been given more time to prepare,” he told As It Happens host Carol Off.

Saunders added that he enjoys watching super-champs and thinks they’re good for the show overall. “I would say that judging by the ratings, that the majority of viewers do enjoy seeing the long streaks,” he said.

Jeopardy!, Weeknights, Check your local listings