Ken Jennings, the million-dollar Mormon, returned to Jeopardy for the new season that kicked off on Monday.
A source familiar with the show says he extends his winning streak through October. Jennings, who amassed $1.3 million in his 38 consecutive Jeopardy wins, also catapulted the show to stellar summer ratings, up 60% from 2003.
But how much Jennings can America take? As Alex Trebek struggles to invent new chitchat, is it time to root for a new egghead?
No way, says game-show guru Steve Beverly, Webmaster of TVgameshows.net: "They’ve found a juggernaut here." But it’s too late for Brian Weikle.
The Minneapolis native won $149,200 in April 2003 before producers amended a longstanding policy to send contestants packing after five consecutive wins.
"The [producers] have put themselves in a tough spot. They need to find somebody who can beat him," says Weikle, whose record one-day win of $52,000 was shattered by Jennings’ $75,000 in last season’s finale. Muses Weikle: "It’s like they’ve created a monster."