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Ken  Jennings

Ken Jennings

Greatest Jeopardy! Player of All Time & Best-Selling Author

Biography

When it comes to quiz shows, no one has done it better than Ken Jennings. The former Utah software engineer rose to fame in 2004 when he spent six months as a contestant on Jeopardy! His 75-game streak and $2.52 million in winnings are still Jeopardy! records today. In 2020, he was named the show's "Greatest of All Time" after winning a prime-time tournament against legendary champs James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter and earned an additional $1 million. In early 2021, he guest-hosted the program for six weeks after the passing of long-time host Alex Trebek. Read More >

Jennings’ success should come as no surprise. A native of Seattle, he spent 15 years in South Korea and Singapore. His father worked as an attorney there. The only lifeline to American pop culture at the time was the Armed Forces Network, where he watched Jeopardy! after school every afternoon. He dreamed of being on the show. But as life got busy, the fantasy faded away.

Jennings returned to the U.S. and while at Brigham Young University, he captained the university’s successful quiz bowl team and began writing and editing questions for National Academic Quiz Tournaments. He noticed a lot of his friends and acquaintances from the world of quiz bowl appearing on games shows — allowing them to pay off student loans or buy cars with their winnings. His long-ago dream of competing on Jeopardy! was revived. And in 2004 that fantasy became a reality.

In the wake of Jennings’ life-changing Jeopardy! reign, he appeared on TV shows from The Tonight Show to The Simpsons to Sesame Street. Barbara Walters named him one of the 10 most interesting people of the year. Jennings is the author of 12 books, including New York Times bestsellers like Maphead, about geography obsessives, and Because I Said So, debunking parenting myths. He currently stars on ABC's hit game show The Chase, as well as Master Minds on GSN, and co-hosts the twice-weekly podcast Omnibus.

As a speaker, Jennings appears at college and corporate events nationwide, covering topics ranging from the importance of education to artificial intelligence (specifically his encounter with IBM’s Watson) to his love of geography — always sharing his insider stories from behind the scenes at Jeopardy! Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

TedTalk : Ken Jennings: Watson, Jeopardy and me, the obsolete know-it-all

Virtual Keynote: Winning When the Game Changes

Knowledge Is What Connects People

Defending Trivia

Speech Topics

Adapt to Win: Lessons from the Greatest of All Time Jeopardy! Champion

How should organizations adapt to change, especially in a world like today's where the changes are so constant and dramatic? In 2020, Ken Jennings was invited back onto Jeopardy! for a "Greatest of All Time" tournament, but it was a very different quiz show from the one where he won seventy-four games in a row in 2004. Champions like “Jeopardy James” and the new strategies of Jeopardy!'s "moneyball" era had changed the game from the ground up. Sharing backstage secrets of tactics and technology from America’s favorite quiz show, Ken shares what he learned about preparation, agility, fast adaptation, strategy and risk on the way to becoming the show's "GOAT."

Secrets of the Jeopardy! Champ: Backstage at America's Favorite Quiz Show

If you've ever sprawled on your couch and mumbled responses to Alex Trebek, you might have the idea that Jeopardy! is a fairly quiet, polite, mild-mannered game. Not so in the studio! Ken Jennings takes you backstage on the set of Jeopardy! and describes the overwhelming, exhausting experience of playing on the show — whether you're on for just one night or, like Ken, for six straight months. How do the buzzers work?  How many shows do they tape in a day? What's Alex like? All of Jeopardy!'s backstage secrets will be revealed.

Can You Beat the GOAT?: An Interactive Quiz Show Event with Ken Jennings

Set up your own trivia competition with Greatest of All Time Jeopardy! Champion Ken Jennings as your host or the ultimate contestant. It’s a crowd-pleasing tournament that can be tailored to your event’s message or mission. Perfect for corporate or college audiences or for charitable fundraisers.

And the Answer Is: Why Is It Better to Be a Generalist?

Question: This type of person brings a wide-ranging knowledge to complex problems, is able to learn new information quickly, and gives employers a competitive edge in an increasingly changing, ever-complex and increasingly AI-run world. In this entertaining and insightful talk, "Greatest of All Time" Jeopardy! player Ken Jennings celebrates the advantages of being a person who thinks outside of multiple boxes. Drawing upon his own journey of lifelong learning that took him from being a computer scientist to being a best-selling author of books on multiple subjects, Ken celebrates the advantages of broad general knowledge in an increasingly specialized world. He also provides insights on how being a culturally literate, knowledgeable generalist advances innovative thinking, creative problem solving and improves decision-making and adaptability to change. A highly engaging and thought-provoking talk for a range of audiences, especially Jeopardy! fans.

Artificial Intelligence: Are Humans in Jeopardy?

In 2011, all-time Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings took on his greatest challenge ever: Representing the human race against IBM’s “Watson,” the super-intelligent supercomputer specifically designed to beat the world’s best players at Jeopardy! When Watson won, Ken became the most celebrated person to lose his job to AI. He won’t be the last. In this fascinating talk, best-selling author and former computer programmer Jennings shares a behind-the scenes account of his epic battle with Watson. He also poses important questions for anyone interested in — or, thanks to Hollywood, terrified by — the idea of increasingly sentient machines that can reason and learn. 

Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks

In April 2013, in the wake of Russia's annexation of the Crimea, a Washington Post poll found that only 1 in 6 Americans could find the Ukraine on a map, and the average guess was wrong by more than 1,800 miles. America's oft-reported struggle with geography is really a symptom of a wider problem: "ingraphicacy," a deep discomfort with spatial tasks and diagrams of all kinds. Maps have been behind some of the greatest achievements in human history, from Columbus' voyage to the birth of epidemiology to the Apollo moon landing. They are beautiful, elegant solutions to an age-old problem: how do we visualize the parts of our world we can't see right now? Is it too late for maps? In this keynote presentation, author and all-time Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings takes us inside the past, present and future of maps, illuminating what they can teach us about our world and ourselves.