"Jeopardy!" champ Ken Jennings (search) came out of the first night of the "Ultimate Tournament of Champions" finals bloodied — but still in the hunt to keep his title.
Brad Rutter (search), who held the old winnings record of $1.1 million, finished Round One of the three-night tournament with $18,400.
Jerome Vered, a L.A.-based writer, won $16,400 and Jennings finished in last place with $16,000.
Jennings became an overnight sensation last year when he won over $2.5 million during an unprecedented streak of 74 consecutive victories.
Rutter and Vered won an elaborate, three-month tournament of past champions to determine who would face Jennings in a final $2 million showdown that is expected to draw huge ratings.
The tournament continues Tuesday night (7 p.m. EDT) and winds up on Wednesday.
Jennings, who's already spun his fame off into several TV commercials and a board game, "Can You Beat Ken?," launched Monday, will also host a game show for Comedy Central.
The as-yet-untitled show, launching in late 2005 or early 2006, is being developed by "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (search)" mastermind Michael Davis. Production is scheduled to begin later this summer.