This Is The Most Money Ever Won On Jeopardy!

"Jeopardy!" is one of the longest-running and most popular TV shows of all time. With over 8,000 episodes on the air, according to Insider, and 42 Emmys, "Jeopardy!" has earned the title of America's most award-winning game show (via the Jeopardy! website). Over the decades, "Jeopardy!" has hosted thousands of contestants, some of whom have gone on to win millions of dollars. But who won the most money ever on "Jeopardy!"?

Brad Rutter, who first went on "Jeopardy!" in 2000, holds the title of most money won from the show so far, including in tournaments, according to People. He's won a whopping $4.9 million from the show, which makes him not just the winningest "Jeopardy!" contestant but also the highest money-winner in all of television game show history, according to Jeopardy. A Pennsylvania native, Rutter has earned his money partially from his original run on the show in 2000, but also from a variety of tournaments he's played since, which have included the $1 Million All Star Games in 2019 and a game against IBM's Watson computer, according to Lancaster Online. Since his "Jeopardy!" wins, Rutter has gone on to appear on the game show "The Chase," a position that has kept him in the public eye, according to Newsweek.

Highest single-game winnings

If you're looking for the contestant who won the most money in a single game, look no further than James Holzhauer, a former sports gambler who took his knowledge of betting and applied it to "Jeopardy!" with great success, according to People. Holzhauer, who first appeared on "Jeopardy!" in 2019, would go on to win 32 games on the show and earn more than $2.4 million, according to Jeopardy. Of that money, $131,127 came from a single game played on April 17, 2019.

Since his successful run on the regular season show, Holzhauer has gone on to feature on the "Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time" series, which pitted three of Jeopardy!'s most successful contestants against each other, according to ABC. But Holzhauer isn't keeping all of his winnings for himself. In an interview with People, Holzhauer shared that he was donating a significant portion of his winnings to Project 150, a nonprofit which offers assistance to homeless Nevada teenagers so they can finish high school.

A recent big-money winner

While some of the winningest contestants first appeared on the show years or even decades ago, Matt Amodio is an example of a successful contestant who's appeared on the show recently, according to People. His successful run, which included a remarkable 38 game wins, came to an end in October of 2021, according to Jeopardy's webside. His total of 38 wins is bested only by Amy Schneider, who won 40 consecutive games, and Ken Jennings, who won 74 consecutive games. Amodio's total payday from the show came to over $1.5 million.

Amodio, who is working on his PhD in computer science at Yale University, said at the end of his run, "To see myself on this stage at all was an honor. And everything that's happened since, I just can't fathom." Amodio is expected to appear on the next Tournament of Champions, where he will have the opportunity to increase his winnings further, and may even surpass some of the other noted contestants on this list.

First woman with over $1 million in winnings

One recent "Jeopardy!" winner who has drawn significant attention is Amy Schneider. Her 40-game win streak came to an end in January of 2022, by which point Schneider had won nearly $1.4 million, according to Jeopardy. That accomplishment has earned her the title not only of the winningest female Jeopardy! contestant of all time, but also the contestant with the second-highest game streak of all time. She's also earned the fourth-most money of any contestant during regular season gameplay. "It's really been an honor," Amy said afterwards. "Just to really know that I'm one of the most successful people at a game I've loved since I was a kid."

Schneider, who is the first transgender contestant to qualify for the Tournament of Champions, according to People, has been called a role model for trans kids (via Parents). She said she deliberately chose to use her natural, deeper voice on the show instead of affecting a more feminine tone, a decision she says offered representation to other trans women, according to The New York Times.

Most wins per contestant

Perhaps the most famous "Jeopardy!" contestant of all time is Ken Jennings. The former software engineer has the title of most consecutive games won, at a staggering 74, according to People. His run earned him a little over $2.5 million, after which Jennings went on to play in several "Jeopardy!" tournaments, including the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions and the "Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time" tournament (which he won, according to Jeopardy). After his G.O.A.T. win, host Alex Trebek said, "It's taken 15 years to get people to stop wondering how good Ken Jennings really is. In the G.O.A.T. tournament, he now showed everyone that he had developed a calm style, delivered with knowledge, a change in betting tactics, and an improved signaling-in capability," according to Jeopardy.

Jennings later went on to accept a consulting producer role on "Jeopardy!" After the death of Alex Trebek in 2020, Jennings became co-host of the show, splitting responsibilities with actress Mayim Bialik, according to TV Insider. Jennings has promoted his "Jeopardy!" interests through other media as well, including his book "Brainiac," about his time on "Jeopardy!"

Other notable winners

With thousands of show contestants over the years, there are plenty of other notable winners. Some of the other most successful "Jeopardy!" players of all time include Jason Zhuffranieri, a math teacher who won more than $500,000 in 2019; David Madden, who won over $430,000 in 2005; and Julia Collins, who, before Amy Schneider's run, was the most successful woman on the show when she earned $428,000 in 2014 (via Esquire).

Keep in mind, though, that winning $428,000 doesn't mean a contestant takes home $428,000. Game show earnings, like all other income, are taxed in the United States, in this case at particularly high federal tax rates of up to 37%, according to Forbes. In addition, winnings are subject to state income taxes, which means game show earnings can be subjected to total tax rates of over 50%. That means that, though these winners will still come home with hefty sums, they don't go home with quite that same number that appears on your TV screen.