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April 2, 2015

The biggest one-day totals in Jeopardy! history

After Michael Bilow took home a whopping $57,198 on Tuesday, there was some confusion as to where his total stood among the highest single-game scores of all time.

Michael Bilow where's the dollarHere’s an attempt to rectify that, with a nod to the players who racked up big paydays back when “I’ll take such-and-such for $500, Alex” made sense.

Clue values were doubled on November 26, 2001. As such, I’ve doubled the totals of winners who played before then. They’re denoted with an asterisk *.

And, yes, I’ll update this on an as-needed basis.

Edited: After I published this, Stefan Goodreau pointed out this archived Sony Pictures site, which listed six early high scores not present in the J! Archive. Those scores, all from the $100-$1,000 era, are denoted with a carat ^. Thanks, Stefan!

Also: at the request of Robert K S, I’ve marked scores that were unadjusted records at the time with a cross ✝. Note: Bob Blake tied Kevin Frear’s $27,800 record, and Ken Jennings tied Brian Weikle’s $52,000 record three times before breaking it outright.

20 Apr 2015: updated with info about Matt Handel, as pointed out by Stefan based on intel from a trustworthy source.

22 Mar 2016: thanks to Joey Palumbo for sending me this archived page, which lists complete scores for most of the early tournaments. It included the $26,001 pre-doubled haul by Matt Morris in the 1994 Teen Finals.


Rank Score Player Type Date
1 $77,000✝ Roger Craig Regular 9/14/10
2 $75,000✝ Ken Jennings Regular 7/23/04
3 $69,000 Austin Rogers Regular 10/3/17
4 $68,000*✝ Jerome Vered Regular 5/21/92
$68,000 Andy Richter Celebrity 9/17/09
6 $66,600 Skyler Hornback Kids 7/31/13
7 $65,600 Austin Rogers Regular 10/2/17
8 $65,200* Doug Lach Regular 7/7/00
9 $62,000* John Skelton Regular 7/1/98
10 $61,200*✝ Frank Spangenberg Regular 1/15/90
11 $58,800^ Mark Born Regular 6/21/91
12 $58,200 Arthur Chu Regular 2/27/14
13 $57,198 Michael Bilow Regular 3/31/15
14 $56,400 Elyse Mancuso Teen F2 5/11/12
15 $56,000* Jason Parker Regular 6/12/00
16 $55,600*✝ Kevin Frear Regular 7/5/88
$55,600^✝ Bob Blake Regular 9/7/89
18 $55,300 Pat Sajak Celebrity 1/21/10
19 $55,099 Ken Jennings Regular 11/24/04
20 $55,000 Mark Runsvold Regular 7/18/11
21 $54,800^ Michael Daunt Regular 12/4/95
22 $53,200* Bruce Naegeli Regular 7/20/88
23 $52,200* Karl Coryat Regular 6/24/96
24 $52,002* Matt Morris Teen F2 2/18/94
25 $52,000✝ Brian Weikle Regular 4/14/03
$52,000✝ Ken Jennings Regular 7/9/04
$52,000✝ Ken Jennings Regular 7/12/04
$52,000✝ Ken Jennings Regular 7/22/04
29 $51,999 Zach Blumenfeld Teen QF 11/3/09
30 $51,000* Garrett Simpson Regular 1/31/89
$51,000 Matt Jackson Regular 10/12/15
32 $50,800^✝ Harvey Becker Regular 11/7/85
$50,800 Joon Pahk Regular 10/4/11
34 $50,000✝ Myron Meyer Regular 9/5/02
$50,000 Ken Jennings Regular 6/10/04
$50,000 Ken Jennings Regular 6/15/04
$50,000 Ken Jennings Regular 7/16/04
$50,000 Ken Jennings Regular 9/17/04
$50,000 Ken Jennings Regular 11/4/04
$50,000 Ken Jennings Regular 11/25/04
$50,000 Roger Craig TOC F1 11/14/11
$50,000 Matthew Jackson Regular 10/09/15
43 $49,998* Michael Arnone Regular 1/11/01
44 $49,900 Philip Tiu Regular 3/15/16
45 $49,699 Kevin Joyce Regular 4/15/09
46 $49,600* Joe Gurski Teen F2 5/17/96
47 $49,400* Steve Chernicoff Regular 9/7/94
48 $49,000 Kunle DeMuren Kids 9/18/02
49 $48,801 Ken Jennings Regular 6/25/04
50 $48,800* Andy Richter Celebrity 11/16/99
51 $48,799 Matt Caruso Regular 4/24/03
52 $48,600 Jack Feerick Regular 1/28/09
53 $48,002^ India Cooper Regular 12/17/91
54 $48,000* Jerome Vered Regular 5/18/92
$48,000* Matt Zielenski Teen F1 2/16/95
$48,000* Dan Melia Regular 9/4/97
$48,000 Mark Runsvold Regular 7/15/11
58 $47,600^✝ Elise Beraru Regular 10/3/84
59 $47,000* Eric Prosser Regular 3/10/98
60 $46,800* Matt Handel Regular 9/8/94
$46,800 Leah Greenwald UTOC 1 3/15/05
62 $46,600 Maria Wenglinsky Regular 11/1/05
$46,599 Tim Kutz Regular 02/17/16
64 $46,000* Bob Beers Regular 4/7/88
$46,000* Matt Handel Regular 9/12/94
$46,000* Jon Stewart Celebrity 11/17/99
67 $45,598* Frank Spangenberg Regular 1/10/90
68 Regular

* pre-doubled totals
^ not in J! Archive as of initial publication
✝ unadjusted record at the time

12 Comments
  1. Awesome! If you have the time, the one improvement I think would be neat would be to add a dagger for those who at one time held the No. 1 spot. You might do two different notations, one for those who, like Myron Meyer, held the record absolutely but not relative to doubled-dollar record holders.

  2. The Jeopardy site’s Hall of Fame for big one-day winners comprises those with $30,000 or more, but pre-doubling (and a little post-, too) it used to be a list (albeit an incomplete one) of people who scored at least $23,800. (That total belonged to Elise Beraru, the first five-time champion.) Here’s a Wayback Machine cache with the old list, containing a few unarchived totals and some more familiar names: https://web.archive.org/web/20021001202114/http://www.sonypictures.com/tv/shows/jeopardy/cont/winners_list_day_totals.html

  3. Elise Beraru’s high score was in 1984, not ’85. And I’ve already told you on Facebook, but I’m putting it here for the general public: a player named Matt Handel scored $23,400 on the day after Steve Chernicoff’s big fifth win, and $23,000 two games later.

  4. Matt Handel permalink

    Hi, it’s Matt Handel. Thanks for the shout-out, Stefan. Day 1 was a lock, so I bet only $5,000 on a pre-Final Jeopardy score of $18,400. Day 3 was pretty wild: I was behind going into Final Jeopardy. I had $11,500 and my opponent had $12,000. I bet everything and got the question right. He bet the appropriate amount, wrote down the correct answer, and then CROSSED IT OUT to write in the incorrect answer.

    BTW, day 4 just stunk. I must have been tired–none of us cracked $10,000 during the game and all three of us got Final Jeopardy wrong. The winner that day took home $899.

  5. I’m giving Bob Beers an honorable mention for likely being the only person who made this list despite getting Final Jeopardy wrong. (Jack Lechner could have done it too, but… http://www.j-archive.com/showgame.php?game_id=3711)

  6. jdgalt permalink

    If you’re going to do a chart with all these colors in it, please explain what they mean!

  7. Please forgive my ignorance but I do not understand your statement:”Also: at the request of Robert K S, I’ve marked scores that were unadjusted records at the time with a cross ✝.” What do you mean?

  8. Freedom fighter permalink

    They just hit 65,000 today!

What do you think?