Ken Jennings: Sony-Jeopardy/AP
July 14, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT


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”Jeopardy!” viewers were treated to a rare sight on Tuesday: Ken Jennings flubbing a Final Jeopardy question (it related to the point size of the headlines in the New York Times). Still, Jennings scored well enough to win the game, bringing his record-breaking winning streak to 30 games and bringing his earnings to date past the $1 million mark, for a total of $1,004,960 to date.

Besides his encyclopedic knowledge of trivia, Jennings owes his streak in part to two recent rule changes on the 20-year-old game show. Last season, in ”Jeopardy!”’s first nod to inflation in two decades, producers doubled the dollar value of every row on the board. This year, they rescinded the rule that retires champions after five straight victories.

Ratings for ”Jeopardy!” are up 30 percent since Jennings’ streak began airing on June 2, USA Today reports. The streak has also brought a measure of fame to the 30-year-old software engineer from Salt Lake City; on Monday night, he appeared on David Letterman’s ”Late Show,” where he read the top 10 list.

Jennings still has a way to go to top the all-time record for ”Jeopardy!” earnings, the $1.15 million earned by tournament player Brad Rutter in 2002. Can Jennings earn another $145,000 in regular-season play? Maybe — the shows were taped several weeks ago, but Jennings won’t say how much longer the streak continues — even if you ask him to say it in the form of a question.

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