An Answering Machine on Hold
'Jeopardy!' Juggernaut Ken Jennings Goes Home For the Summer With His Record Streak Intact
By Tamara Jones
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 24, 2004; Page A01
The Man Who Ate "Jeopardy!" took a breather yesterday but is still licking his chops.
Which left viewers with this $1,321,660-and-still-counting question:
After eight weeks, 38 episodes, 76 opponents and more than 1,300 questions in more than 450 categories, just how long is Ken Jennings's record winning streak going to last?
The one-man geekathon by the boyish software engineer from Salt Lake City has sent ratings for the staid quiz show skyward and created a cult following for someone who easily pinpoints the most remote rivers in the world but can't find his car in a parking garage.
Leaving the air now for summer hiatus, "Jeopardy!" will return in September.
So will Ken Jennings.
Already, viewers have watched host Alex Trebek go from delight to dismay to desperation at the sight of the same champion returning again and again.
"Tell us some deep, dark secret about yourself," Trebek implored somewhere in the seventh week, after exhausting his supply of cue cards listing Jennings's hobbies and amusing anecdotes.
"You know," Jennings deadpanned, "I killed a man down South once."
Trebek hastily returned to the board, where "Jeopardy!" poses five answers ranging in value from $200 to $1,000 in six categories, which the three players must respond to in the form of a question. The answers double in value in the second half of the 30-minute show.
A vow of secrecy on the "Jeopardy!" set (blab and you forfeit your winnings) has also made Jennings an unlikely man of mystery, his interviews limited to talk show banter, his answers so guarded that even the most banal details are devoured like so many Daily Doubles.
He has a dog named Banjo!
It's a Labrador retriever!
He didn't own enough suits for all his "Jeopardy!" appearances!
© 2004 The Washington Post Company