Ken Jennings: Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau

Ken Jennings

Jeopardy! Champion & Author

Ken Jennings was working as a software engineer for a Salt Lake City health care staffing company in 2004 when he got the phone call telling him that his contestant audition had been successful and he would appear on a June game of Jeopardy! He spent a month making flash cards and cramming on familiar Jeopardy! subjects like U.S. Presidents, world capitals, and "potent potables."

Much to his surprise, Jennings' Jeopardy! appearance extended beyond a single game in June: he took advantage of a recent rule change allowing Jeopardy! champs to appear on the show indefinitely, and spent the next six months hogging America's TV screens. Before losing on the November 30 show because he didn't know enough trivia about H&R Block, Jennings won 74 games and $2.52 million, both American game show records.

The streak made Jennings a 2004 TV folk hero, and he appeared as a guest on shows such as The Tonight Show and The Late Show with David Letterman to Live with Regis and Kelly and Sesame Street. Barbara Walters named him one of the ten most fascinating people of the year. The Christian Science Monitor called him "the king of Trivia Nation" and Slate magazine dubbed him "the Michael Jordan of trivia, the Seabiscuit of geekdom." ESPN: The Magazine called him "smarmy (and) punchable," with "the personality of a hall monitor," thus continuing America's long national struggle between jocks and nerds.

Following his Jeopardy! streak, Jennings' product endorsements have included FedEx, Microsoft Encarta, Allstate, Cingular, and even his onetime nemesis H&R Block. He speaks about the importance of learning at college campuses and corporate events, which is often followed by a mock quiz show or trivia face-off against audience members, and has co-invented two trivia games: the Can You Beat Ken? board game from University Games, and Quizzology, a CD trivia game from Major Games. Jennings' 2006 book Brainiac, about his bizarre Jeopardy! adventures and about the phenomenon of trivia in American culture, was a national bestseller. He also penned Ken Jennings’s Trivia Almanac, and Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks. His latest book Because I Said So! was released on December 4, 2012.

Subsequent quiz show appearances have included 1 vs. 100; Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, where Jennings has served several times as an "Ask the Expert" lifeline; GSN's Grand Slam tournament for 16 ex-quiz show champs, which Jennings won; and Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?, on which Jennings won $500,000 but refused to risk it all on the final question, thereby proving not to be smarter than a 5th grader. He also appears on a weekly "Stump the Master" segment Friday afternoons on GSN Live.

While double majoring in English and computer science at Brigham Young University, Jennings captained the university's academic competition team, which consistently finished in the top ten at national quiz bowl tournaments. Since graduating, he has worked writing and editing questions for National Academic Quiz Tournaments, a company that organizes quiz competitions attended by hundreds of colleges and thousands of high schools nationwide. Jennings also began to notice a parade of his friends and acquaintances from the world of quiz bowl appearing on game shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, where many were able to pay off their student loans and buy flashy sports cars. With this in mind, Jennings began to revive his childhood dream of appearing on Jeopardy!

Jennings currently lives outside Seattle, Washington, with his wife Mindy, his son Dylan and daughter Caitlin, and a deeply unstable Labrador retriever named Banjo.

Interested in booking Ken Jennings to speak at your next event?

Contact Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau.

(866) 248-3049

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