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Ken Jennings, greatest 'Jeopardy!' player, coming to SIU

  • Trivia master Ken Jennings will speak at SIU next week.

    Trivia master Ken Jennings will speak at SIU next week.
    Courtesy of SIU News Service

By Christi Mathis
SIU News Service
updated: 9/10/2021 1:09 PM

The world's all-time top television game show winner, best-selling author, game show host and "Greatest Jeopardy! Player of All Time," Ken Jennings, is coming to Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Sept. 16.

Jennings will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Shryock Auditorium on " ... Knowledge in the Age of Artificial Intelligence; the role of higher education in shaping the next 150 years."

The public is welcome. Admission is free and available on a first-come, first-served basis with no advance seating reservations. Masks will be required.

After his talk, the King of Trivia Nation will sign copies of his book, "Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs," which will be available for sale in the lobby.

Jennings was originally set to speak at SIU in March 2020, in conjunction with the University's 150th anniversary celebration, but the event had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

Jennings has served as an interim host of "Jeopardy!" following the death of longtime host Alex Trebek and he has been named as a consulting producer of the show. Jennings bested two other Jeopardy! legends, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer, to win $1 million and the GOAT (Greatest Jeopardy! Player of All Time) title in a prime-time, best-of-seven event in January 2020.

Jennings holds the show's all-time record for the highest regular-season winnings ($2,520,700), the longest winning streak (74 consecutive games), and the highest average correct responses (35.9%).

He has also starred on various other game shows including the Game Show Networks' "Stump the Master," "Best Ever Trivia Show" and "The Chase," as well as ABC's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

His lifelong dream came true in 2004 when he got the call to appear on Jeopardy! A tech wizard, he prepared in a most old-fashioned way -- using flash cards and hours and hours of studying. He won and just kept winning.

He didn't return to his job as a software engineer as he was able to use his winnings to pursue his dream career as an author. His inaugural memoir, "Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs," was based on his adventures on Jeopardy! It became a New York Times bestseller as did his follow-up books "Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography" and "Because I Said So!" He now has a dozen books to his credit, along with a children's series, "Junior Genius Guides."

He is the co-host of "Omnibus," a twice-weekly podcast compilation of strange-yet-true stories being assembled for a time capsule for future generations.

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