CULVER CITY, CALIF. (May 16, 2014) – Brad Rutter, a 36-year-old actor and producer from Los Angeles, won the JEOPARDY! Battle of the Decades Tournament, defeating Ken Jennings and Roger Craig, in an episode that aired today.
Rutter, who went into the competition as the top money winner in JEOPARDY! history, added $1 million to his previous $3,355,102 in career winnings, bringing his total winnings to $4,355,102; Jennings claimed $100,000 for his second-place finish, and Craig took home $50,000 for coming in third.
“It’s really hard to describe how proud I am, not just that I won, but to be associated with a first-class operation like JEOPARDY!,” Rutter said. “I knew that Ken and Roger were both fantastic players and that it would come down to the end. We would battle it out and see what was left when the smoke cleared.”
Rutter and Jennings have been rivals and friends for the better part of a decade, a relationship Rutter describes as like Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. They famously faced off against IBM’s Watson in 2011, and before that, in the finals of 2005’s Ultimate Tournament of Champions, which Rutter also won.
“Brad and I have been through the JEOPARDY! wringer together before and have bonded,” said Jennings. “It’s weird because we’re sort of different – I’m a suburban dad in Seattle who hates L.A.; Brad enjoys the debauched single L.A. lifestyle made popular by TV’s ‘Entourage’ – but on the JEOPARDY! set, we are the same guy: we love playing the game more than anything else, win or lose. He’s a class act.”
Craig, who won the Tournament of Champions in 2011 and who holds the record for most money won in a single game, embraced the opportunity to compete against his formidable opponents.
“When I realized I had won my semi-final game and knew I’d be playing Brad and Ken in the finals, I was super excited and happy that it had come down to that,” he said. “I really wanted to play both of them when this tournament was announced, and what better time than in the finals? They are extremely accomplished at JEOPARDY!, but I honestly think I can hang with them and I think the way the finals played out showed it was literally anyone’s game.”
Craig did indeed keep pace with Rutter and Jennings for the first game of the two-day final until the Double Jeopardy! round, when he wagered everything he had ($10,200) on a Daily Double and could not provide the correct response. In the second game, he tried to make up the deficit with another $10,200 bet, with the same results.
“During the finals, my strategy was to play to win at all costs, even if it meant striking out when swinging for the fences,” said Craig of his risky strategy. “Every move I made was to maximize the chance I would win, and I wasn’t worried at all about how others would perceive it. I would have really regretted it if I had [just] played to not lose.”
Rutter had said during his on-air interview with JEOPARDY! host Alex Trebek that he planned to use some of his winnings to buy a new Porsche, a goal that has since been somewhat modified.
“I had to scuttle the Porsche plan because Alex expressly forbade me from buying one at the wrap party, and I know which side my bread is buttered on,” he joked. “I still need a new car, though, and I’ll definitely do some traveling. I haven’t been to Paris in years and spending a week or so sitting at cafés watching the world go by sounds fantastic right now.”
JEOPARDY!, America’s Favorite Quiz Show® and its host, Alex Trebek, are celebrating 30 years of “answers and questions.” The top-rated quiz show in syndication, JEOPARDY! has become a pop culture phenomenon and holds the Guinness World Record for the most Emmy awards won by a TV game show (30 Emmys). In 2014, JEOPARDY! won the inaugural Writers Guild of America award for Outstanding Writing for Quiz and Audience Participation; it is also the recipient of a 2011 Peabody Award. JEOPARDY! is produced by Sony Pictures Television, a Sony Pictures Entertainment Company; it is distributed domestically by CBS Television Distribution and internationally by CBS Television International, both units of CBS Corp. For more information, please visit Jeopardy.com.
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