Ken Jennings can expect some ribbing if he sits down with a team of accountants to prepare the income taxes on his remarkably profitable year.
A returned missionary-cum-game show legend, Brother Jennings became a household name, (a "trivial" celebrity?), after winning 74 consecutive "Jeopardy!" episodes and pocketing more than $2.5 million. His streak finally ended at episode 75 when he was defeated by California real estate agent Nancy Zerg in a taped episode broadcast Nov. 30. Brother Jennings said good-bye to "Jeopardy!" after missing a Final Jeopardy question — here comes the ribbing —from the world of business.
To wit: "Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year." The correct response, answered in the form of a question, was national accounting giant H&R Block. Ms. Zerg answered correctly. Brother Jennings slipped, answering "What is FedEx?"
Game show fans and Church members alike began taking notice of Brother Jennings — an elders quorum president from Murray, Utah — last summer when he began winning episode after episode, displaying both wit and warmth. He said his success and growing fortune was unexpected. (See June 19, 2004, Church News, page 11.)
Still, he seemed to plow through each episode, besting most of his opponents by tens of thousands of dollars.
When his run finally came to end, Brother Jennings admitted to mixed sentiments over leaving the show.
"But the main feeling was just relief," he told the Deseret Morning News. "My life has been on hold for so long while I waited to see how long this crazy 'Jeopardy!' ride would last."
Don't expect Brother Jennings to be forgotten any time soon. He's already made the late-night talk show circuit, appeared on ABC's "Nightline" the night his final episode was aired and reportedly plans to write a book on his "Jeopardy!" adventure.