With The Greatest of All Time Jeopardy! battle set to start, we're left with a few questions about how we ended up here. We know the name Ken Jennings because of his incredibly long streak on the show, with a 74 day winning streak. We know the name James Holzhauer for his more recent win of $2,464,216 over 33 days in 2019.
But what about Brad Rutter, our final champion squaring off in the battle? How did he become the highest-earning American game show contestant of all time when he was only allowed to play for five games? Here's how Brad had to leave Jeopardy! despite not having lost a game.
How did Brad Rutter get kicked off Jeopardy!? An old rule made him leave.
A formidable contender for The Greatest of All Time championship battle, Brad managed to win $55,102 over a five day winning streak in 2000. The thing was, back in 2000, five games was the limit. When his five games were up, he had to leave, taking his earnings with them.
Well, his earnings and two Chevrolet Camaros, since, way back then, cars were things that contestants could also win on the show. At the time, there was also a maximum limit of $75,000 in wins. So even if Brad had been able to continue, he was still capped at that amount.
We don't remember Brad quite as well as Ken and that really has to do with the old rule. By the time that Ken came on the show in 2004, the rule had been written away a year earlier, leaving the door open for Ken to stay on for as long as he could. And he did just that, earning $2,520,700 over the span of 74 games. He lost on the 75th day to Nancy Zerg.
If Brad was kicked off after five days, how did he continue winning money?
If you manage to win five games in a row on Jeopardy!, you have the ability to take part in the Tournament of Champions. Brad was one such contestant who took part in the tournament and he took home a prize of $100,000. Following that, he was asked to return again for the Million Dollar Masters Tournament where he left with $1 million.
He then beat Ken in the Ultimate Tournament of Champions and walked away with $2,100,000. The two battled it out again in 2011 in the Jeopardy! IBM Challenge where they went up against the computer Watson. They both lost to the machine. Although Brad came in third and therefore technically lost to Ken, Jeopardy! does not recognize this tournament in their official records because it was only an exhibition match. According to Jeopardy!'s official records, Brad has still never lost to a human.
But one of the greats has got to lose in the Greatest of All Time championship. Will Brad defeat Ken once again? Or will James take them all out? We'll have to watch Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time on January 7 on ABC at 8 PM EST to find out.