Note: This story has been updated to reflect Ryan Long’s loss Monday night.
It was clear from the start that this “Jeopardy!” season would be one for the books.
Then Jonathan Fisher, an actor from Florida, defeated Amodio and went on to have an 11-game winning streak.
Amy Schneider soon followed with a whopping 40 wins, surpassing Amodio’s winning streak to claim the No. 2 spot in the “Jeopardy!” Hall of Fame for most games won — still 35 games away from dethroning “Greatest of All Time” champion Ken Jennings.
There was also Mattea Roach, a 23-year-old tutor from Canada who claimed 23 victories — and paid off her student debt in the process.
Now, “Jeopardy!” has seen its fifth super champion of the season in Ryan Long. On Monday night, Long’s winning streak came to an end after 16 victories, according to Thejeopardyfan.com. The 39-year-old Uber and Lyft driver from Philadelphia now sits at the No. 9 spot for most consecutive wins in “Jeopardy!” history.
Long’s winning streak was especially impressive considering he forgot his glasses back in Philadelphia, which is why he sometimes squinted when reading clues.
“There was a video clue category on Swedish history, and there was a photo of a king with his sword,” Long told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I could not see what that clue was. I just took my best guess, and of course, it was wildly wrong. When you watch it on TV, the clue is blown up big and everything, but when you get there the video clue screen is way across the stage, and it’s not that big. So if you don’t have good vision, then good luck to you, pal. You’re going to be struggling.”
Long’s run on the show came after some life setbacks, including enduring a severe case of COVID-19 and living paycheck to paycheck, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The “Jeopardy!” champ could only afford to buy two dress shirts, but the show’s wardrobe department assisted him as his streak continued.
“The money’s life changing,” Long, who accrued $300,000, told The Inquirer. “It’s not like I’m set for life, but if I’m smart with it, I can definitely do some things. I’m very happy and very, very fortunate.”
And what’s behind this surge of super champions? Claire McNear of The Ringer previously reported that “Jeopardy!” introducing the online Anytime Test for aspiring contestants in February 2020 — allowing people to take the test at any time rather than a specific date once or twice a year — has played a major role.
“The most obvious factor is that ‘Jeopardy!’ has seen an explosion of applicants during the past two years, meaning that there are many more buzzer hopefuls — and big, beautiful brains — from which to choose,” McNear wrote earlier this year, noting that the number of applicants each year had grown from 70,000 prior to the Anytime Test to nearly 240,000.
“It could be that now players are unlocking enough of the game’s secrets in great enough numbers to become the rule and not the exception,” she added. “Or at least to dominate until the rest of the contestant pool goes pro too.”