NEW YORK – Television's seemingly unbeatable answer man — or question man — has passed the $1 million mark on "Jeopardy!" (search).
Ken Jennings (search), the whip-smart software engineer from Salt Lake City, won his 30th straight contest on the syndicated game show, in an episode televised Tuesday. That brought his earnings to $1,004,960.
He's long since blown past the previous record for a "Jeopardy!" contestant, excluding special tournaments. Tom Walsh of Washington, D.C., set that record of $184,900 over seven days last winter.
In his monthlong run, Jennings has provided more than 1,000 correct questions. "Jeopardy" contestants are provided the answer, and must reply in the form of a question.
Jennings, 30, has shown few knowledge gaps in his march to millionaire status. He was a member of Brigham Young University's College Bowl team in the 1990s, and he edits literature questions for the National Academic Quiz Tournament (search).
At the start of its 20th season last fall, "Jeopardy!" changed its longtime rule that said a champion must leave after five straight wins. Now a player stays on the show until losing.
The only suspense Monday was in whether Jennings would beat the single-day "Jeopardy!" record of $52,000 in winnings, which he's tied twice.
He seemed poised to do so, but proved he was fallible. He had to name the two years, five years apart, where The New York Times first used 96-point type for headlines marking historical events.
Jennings answered 1996 and 2001. The correct response: 1969, when man landed on the moon, and 1974, when President Nixon resigned.
He'll be back to try again.