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2010s / Jeopardy Champion Jason Keller
Jason Keller, 30, a private tutor from Highland Park, NJ, won $213,900 as a nine-time champion on Jeopardy! He won for the first time on the December 16, 2011 episode and successfully defended his title eight times until losing on the December 29 episode. His winnings rank sixth in the syndicated show's 27-year history. (It should be noted that contestants were limited to five wins until September 2003.) I know Jason through his connection to tournament Scrabble. (He is one of the top 100 Scrabble players in North America; he finished 19th at the U.S. Nationals in 2011.) Jason attended a Scrabble tourney in Albany, NY just in time to watch the broadcast where he was defeated! He was justifiably greeted by his fellow Scrabble players with great enthusiasm. Jason was called upon to make a speech. He told the crowd a few interesting tidbits about his experiences on Jeopardy!: Tapings are done just two days per week (Tuesday and Wednesday). Jason's shows were taped in mid and late October. Jason won his first game on the last show of the Tuesday taping. He then won all five shows of the Wednesday taping. He then had to fly home for a Scrabble event that weekend and fly back to Los Angeles for further tapings. He won two more games on the Tuesday taping before losing. Jason said he has to wait 120 days to get his winnings--and he will lose about 42 percent of them in taxes. All Jeopardy! contestants are responsible for their own travel and hotel costs. However, the champion of the final show on Wednesday is flown home and back to LA for the next week's taping(s) at the show's expense. In an interesting twist, the player who defeated Jason was Dave Leach--who himself became a six-time champion. The was the first time in Jeopardy! history that a super-champion (a player who won more than five games) was dethroned by another super-champion.