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Ken  Jennings

Ken Jennings

Legendary All-Time Jeopardy! Champion

Biography

One of the winningest game show contestants of all time, Ken Jennings became the stuff of legend when he set all-time Jeopardy! records in 2004. He still holds those records today, including the longest winning streak (74 consecutive games), highest regular-season winnings ($2,520,700) and highest average correct responses (35.9) records in Jeopardy! history. Ken went on to further fame representing the human race in a 2011 Jeopardy! match against IBM’s Watson supercomputer. In 2019, he returned to the spotlight when Jeopardy! phenom James Holzhauer (who Ken describes as “as close to Watson as a human can get”) came within $60,000 of Ken’s winnings record before being eliminated. Ever humble, Ken continues to express gratitude for his 15-plus year run as champ. “Usually, when they say you can have 15 minutes of fame, it does not become 15 years,” said the former software engineer turned best-selling author on Good Morning America. As a speaker, Ken 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 (the subject of his New York Times best-selling book), always sharing his insider stories from behind the scenes at Jeopardy! He also participates in trivia nights or live quiz shows, as either a host or participant. Read More >

After his long reign on Jeopardy!, Ken used his winnings to live the life of his dreams and become a best-selling author. His 12 books include the New York Times best-seller Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography, Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs, Ken Jenning’s Trivia Almanac: 8,888 Questions in 365 Days, Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over Our Culture, Wonks, Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids; and a children’s series, Junior Genius Guides. He is the co-host of Omnibus, a twice-weekly podcast that compiles strange-but-true stories for inclusion in a time capsule for future generations. He also serves as a resident expert on the Game Show Network’s Best Ever Trivia Show, in which three contestants face off against game show and trivia champions. Previously, Ken hosted two game shows on GSN and appeared in ads for FedEx, Microsoft, IBM and Allstate. He has made numerous television appearances, from The Tonight Show and Sesame Street to being interviewed as one of Barbara Walter’s most fascinating people of the year. Prior to becoming a Jeopardy! champ, Ken worked as a software engineer for a health care staffing company.

Dubbed “the Michael Jordan of trivia, the Seabiscuit of geekdom,” Jennings is part folk hero, part pop icon, and a perennial crowd pleaser. Whether recounting his famous match with Watson, answering audience questions about Jeopardy! or hosting or competing in trivia contests, Ken Jennings treats audiences to an unforgettable event with “the King of Trivia Nation.” Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

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

Knowledge Is What Connects People

Defending Trivia

Speech Topics

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 Ken Jennings takes us inside the past, present and future of maps, illuminating what they can teach us about our world and ourselves.

Because I Said So: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales & Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids

"Don't cross your eyes or they'll stay like that!"
"Don't touch your Halloween candy until we get it checked out!"
"Never run with scissors." Read More >

Is any of it true? If so, how true? In this presentation based on his latest book Because I Said So: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids, speaker Ken Jennings wants to find out if mother and father always know best. Yes, all those years you were told not to sit too close to the television (you'll hurt your eyes!) or swallow your gum (it stays in your stomach for seven years!) or crack your knuckles (arthritis!) are called into question by America's leading trivia guru.

Armed with medical case histories, scientific findings, and even the occasional experiment on himself (or his kids), Jennings exposes countless examples of parental wisdom run amok. Whether you're a parent who wants to know what you can stop worrying about or a kid (of any age) looking to say "I told you so," this is the anti-helicopter parenting guide you've been waiting for. Read Less ^

The Human Brain in Jeopardy: Computers That “Think”

In 2011, when IBM developed a supercomputer that could defeat top human players at the quiz show Jeopardy!, computer programmer and quiz show champ Ken Jennings became the first person ever to lose his job to one of these new “thinking” machines. But he won’t be the last. Jennings uses his experiences battling IBM’s “Watson” as a way to explore the changes in tomorrow’s business climate that Watson will introduce: computers that can diagnose disease, provide customer support, perform business analytics... and dominate TV quiz shows, of course.

Elementary, My Dear Watson: Playing Jeopardy Against the World’s Smartest Machine

Speaker Ken Jennings, a former computer programmer, best-selling author, and 74-game Jeopardy! champion, was hauled out of quiz show retirement in 2011 to represent the human race against “Watson,” a super-intelligent supercomputer designed by IBM for one purpose alone: to beat the world’s best players at Jeopardy! Jennings’ behind-the-scenes look at that epic match poses important questions for anyone interested in—or, thanks to Hollywood, terrified by—the idea of machines that can reason and learn. Why is “Watson” such a technological milestone? Does it really “think” in the same way that a human does? What does its remarkable ability tell us about the future of artificial intelligence, and of human intelligence?

A True Daily Double: Disruptive Innovation on Jeopardy!