10 Biggest American Game Show Winners (VIDEO)
Jeopardy! will kick off 2020 with a battle royale, bringing back the game show’s three biggest winners — Brad Rutter, Ken Jennings, and James Holzhauer — for the “Greatest of All Time” tournament, airing in primetime on ABC beginning January 7.
“This timeless and extraordinary format is the gift that keeps on giving and winning the hearts of America every week,” Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, said in a statement. “We can’t wait to deliver this epic and fiercely competitive showdown — with these unprecedented contestants — to ABC viewers and loyal fans everywhere.”
While we trivia buffs count down the days until the epic tournament — and, you know, listen to the Jeopardy! theme on repeat — scroll down to check out the 10 biggest game show winners in American TV history, this trio included.
10. James Carpenter: $1.25 million
This IRS agent won the top prize on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in 1999 — making history as the first contestant to do so — and then won another $250,000 in his 2000 reprise appearance.
9. Curtis Warren: $1.55 million
Warren amassed his fortune on the game shows Greed, Sale of the Century, and Win Ben Stein’s Money — though, interestingly, he walked away from Jeopardy! empty-handed in 1986.
8. David Legler: $1.77 million
When Twenty-One returned in 2000, Legler won six shows and became the game show’s biggest winner.
7. Ashlee Register: $1.79 million
Register is not only the highest-earning woman in American game show history, but her Duel payday also ranks as the most money won by an American contestant who only appeared on one game show.
6. Ed Toutant: $1.87 million
After this former Jeopardy! contestant got eliminated on the $16k question of Millionaire in 2001, he proved that the question was faulty and got another shot on the show, during which he hit the jackpot.
5. Kevin Olmstead: $2.21 million
This environmental engineer won a relatively paltry $27k during his Jeopardy! appearance in the 1990s, but not to worry — he got $2.18 million on Millionaire in 2001.
4. Andrew Kravis: $2.66 million
Kravis won thousands of dollars competing on Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, but he really hit pay dirt on The Million Second Quiz, earning $2.6 million.
3. James Holzhauer: $2.77 million
This professional gambler made headlines earlier this year for his 33-episode winning streak on Jeopardy! and his record-breaking $111k single-day win. Less widely known, however, are his $58k winnings from the game show The Chase.
2. Ken Jennings: $4.22 million
Jennings holds the record for the longest winning streak on Jeopardy!, reigning victorious on 74 episodes of the show. He also competed on Millionaire, 1 vs. 100, Grand Slam, and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?.
1. Brad Rutter: $4.89 million
This trivia legend has appeared in 38 Jeopardy! episodes since 2000, racking up the show’s highest total jackpot. He and Jennings duked it out earlier this year in the “All-Star Games,” and of course, they’ll face off with Holzhauer in January’s “Greatest of All Time” tourney.
Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time, Tuesday, January 7, 2020, 8/7c, ABC