Frank Spangenberg (search), the New York City transit cop whose big-bucks "Jeopardy!" win shattered records 15 years ago, returns Wednesday night — hoping to eventually topple all-time champ Ken Jennings (search).
Spangenberg, a Flushing, Queens, native, won $102,597 over five days in 1990. The record stood for 13 years until "Jeopardy!" (search) doubled the value of each question.
Wednesday, he's on the show's Ultimate Tournament of Champions (7 p.m. EDT), which will eventually end with two past "Jeopardy!" champs competing against Jennings — who won $2.5 million over 74 consecutive days last year.
"Taking the cap off of how many times you can stay [on the show] really does change the game," Spangenberg says. "Ken discovered the truth of that."
Spangenberg, a 19-year NYPD veteran who's still with the department, is currently studying for exams in Cambridge, Mass., where he's completing a Master's in Public Education at Harvard University's Kennedy School.
"I had a little party last week with a good number of people to celebrate my Round 2 appearance, but I'll be doing work tonight," he says. "I'm in the middle of working on take-home exams for school."
Spangenberg, who's been on "Jeopardy!" twice since 1990 — once in 1993 and again in 2003 — says he watched last year as Jennings plowed through victory after victory.
"All good players can answer probably 98 percent of the questions — if they miss three questions, it's a lot," he says. "The important thing is to ring in and hope for the best ... to get the timing of the buzzer down.
"It doesn't happen the first day and maybe not the second day but being on the show, day after day, eventually you can perfect it," he says.
"That's exactly what happened with Ken — he managed to get his timing down perfectly."
It also helps to be a little game-savvy, as Steve Chernicoff learned Monday night during "Final Jeopardy" — when he lost by $1 to Brad Rutter.
The Ultimate Tournament of Champions runs through the end of next week. Two winners will face off against Jennings for three nights beginning Monday, May 23.