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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

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.

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.