Ken Jennings Biography


Birthday: May 23, 1974 (Gemini)

Born In: Edmonds, Washington, United States

Ken Jennings is an American author, consultant and game show contestant best known as the highest earning American game show contestant of all times. Born in Washington, Ken spent his childhood in South Korea and Singapore, where his father was stationed. A ‘Jeopardy!’ fan since childhood, Ken aspired to appear on the popular television game show. Following his college graduation, he began working as a software engineer and in 2004, won the audition to appear on ‘Jeopardy!’ He embarked on a long streak on the show and that lasted for 75 appearances, where he ended up making more than $4.5 million. He further appeared in more game shows such as ‘Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?’ and ‘Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time’. He earned a reputation as a celebrity and was invited for interviews on many talk shows such as ‘Live with Regis and Kelly’ and the ‘Late Show with David Letterman’. On many seasons of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’, he appeared as an expert to help the contestants. Apart from his prize winning streaks on television game shows, he has also written books such as ‘Brainiac’, ‘Maphead’ and ‘Because I Said So!’

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Kenneth W. Jennings III

Age: 49 Years, 49 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Mindy Jennings

father: Kenneth Wayne Jennings II

siblings: Ian Holzhauer

children: Dylan Jennings

Born Country: United States

Writers American Men

Height: 5'1" (155 cm), 5'1" Males

U.S. State: Washington

More Facts

education: Brigham Young University, University of Washington, Seoul Foreign School

Childhood & Early Life
Ken Jennings was born Kenneth Wayne Jennings III on May 23, 1974, in Seattle, Washington, to Kenneth Wayne Jennings II. He was born as the second child in the family and had an older brother growing up.
Ken’s father was an esteemed lawyer who was posted internationally and he took his family with him. Hence, Ken spent his early childhood in South Korea, and then Singapore. Ken was a big fan of the show ‘Jeopardy!’ while growing up. He watched television on the Armed Forces Network that telecasted American television shows in the countries where American forces were stationed.
He attended Seoul Foreign School, and earned a diploma. He enrolled into the University of Washington upon returning to the USA. However, he later transferred to the Brigham Young University. He was in the university’s quiz bowl team for three years.
At the university, he majored in computer science and English. He graduated from the BYU in 2000 and around the same time, he began writing questions for National Academic Quiz Tournaments. It was a company that organized quiz competitions around hundreds of schools and college across the country.
He had been a huge fan of game shows such as ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ and saw students like him earning millions, and paying off their student loans while also living in luxury. He also began dreaming of appearing on the popular game show ‘Jeopardy!’ and win millions.
Having completed his computer science degree, in the early 2000s, Ken began working for a company in Salt Lake City as a software engineer. He received a call that he was selected to appear on the game show ‘Jeopardy!’, the show for which he had auditioned to become a contestant for the 20th season.
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Jeopardy! Streak
Ken spent the one month he had before his debut on the show studying as much as he could. He made his first appearance on the show on the episode which was telecasted on June 2, 2004. Luckily, the new rule allowed the winners of the previous seasons to enter the next season, to continue their winning streak. Ken took advantage of that and rolled on to the 21st season, maintaining his winning streak.

He maintained his winning streak for the next five months and was eventually defeated on November 30, 2004, when Nancy Zerg defeated him in his 75th game. He had become a celebrity overtime as ‘Jeopardy!’ was one of the most watched television game show on American television. He ended up winning $2.52 million during his 74 games long streak, which was a record.

Following his 38th straight win, he was invited to appear on the talk show titled ‘Live with Regis and Kelly’. He later also made an appearance on the ‘Late show with David Letterman’. He was further named by Barbara Walters as one of the ten most fascinating people of the year. The Christian Science Monitor Magazine named him ‘The King of Trivia Nation’, while he was named by the Slate Magazine as the ‘The Michael Jordan of Trivia’.

In the final week of December 2004, a show titled ‘Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions’ was organized. The show featured former players from almost all the formats of the game and gathered about 145 contestants in total, including Ken. However, despite performing well, Ken could not win the tournament and finished on the second place.

His association with ‘Jeopardy!’ has continued throughout the years and he has appeared on several spin-off shows such as ‘Jeopardy! Battle of the Decades’ and ‘Jeopardy! All-Star Games’.
In November 2019, Ken participated in a Jeopardy contest with previous champions in a bid to determine who the best among them was. He ended up winning the competition and won $100,000.
Other Ventures

Ken has milked the fame and success he earned through ‘Jeopardy!’ and has written some highly successful books. His first book was titled ‘Brainiac’, which was based on his experiences in the game show ‘Jeopardy!’ and his later researches on the trivia culture that he conducted on his own. In addition, he has written a series of children’s books titled ‘Junior Genius Guides’ and some non-fiction books such as ‘Maphead’ and ‘Ken Jennings’ Trivia Almanac’.

From November 2005 onwards, he also had a column in the Mental Floss Magazine, where he would connect two wildly different things the readers would send. The column titled ‘Six Degrees of Ken Jennings’ ran until 2010.
Ken also joined hands with ace television producer Michael Davies to work on a new game show for Comedy Central. The show was reported to be premiering in late 2005. However the show never saw the light of the day.
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In September 2006, he was seen giving an interview on ‘The Colbert Report’, where he also marketed his book ‘Brainiac’.

In October 2006, he made an appearance on the first two episodes of the game show titled ‘1 vs. 100’ wherein he was seen playing a mob member. However, he was eliminated from the show in the second episode.
In 2007, he appeared on a game show titled ‘Grand Slam’, a Sony Pictures Production. The show’s format had former champions of television game shows competing in a single elimination game. Ken won the tournament and was named the Grand Slam Champion, earning $100,000.
In 2008, he was a contestant on another popular game show titled ‘Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?’. He had won $500,000 and had the chance of winning $ 1 million, but he did not take the risk with the final question. He skipped the question and was later showed that he had the right answer.
Towards the late 2000s, he also appeared on game shows such as ‘Stump the Master’ and ‘Doug Loves Movies’. In the latter show, he registered victory quite a few times.

Ken has also appeared frequently on the game show ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’, not as a contestant, but as an expert that helps the contestants during the ‘ask the expert’ lifeline. However, he appeared on the show as a contestant once in 2014, where he decided to walk out with $100,000. Once again, if he had gone for the $250,000, he would have been right.

In 2016, he further appeared on the trivia show ‘500 Questions’ during the premiere of show’s second season. Later in 2019, he appeared on the ‘Best Ever Trivia Show’.
University Games have designed a game based on Ken, titled ‘Can You Beat Ken?’
Personal Life
Ken Jennings met Mindy in college and got married to her soon after he graduated. The couple had two children together. The family currently lives in Seattle.
Ken is an ardent Christian and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Ken Jennings is quite active on Twitter and often, he has led himself into trouble quite a few times. In 2014, he invited a controversy when he tweeted that ‘Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair’. He has also tweeted controversially about Donald Trump’s youngest child Barron Trump.

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