It’s over for Matt Jackson, but don’t feel too badly. The 23-year-old paralegal from Washington ended his 13-game Jeopardy! winning streak today, losing to New York City’s Michael Baker. But in the process, he amassed over $400,000 in total winnings ($411,612 to be exact), landing him in fourth place on the all-time regular-season (non-tournament) money winnings list. Only three players in the show’s history – Ken Jennings ($2.5M), Dave Madden ($432,400) and Julia Collins ($428,100) – have won more money than him.
“It is pretty hard to wrap my mind around,” Jackson said. “While I was in the middle of playing, I really didn’t want to think of it as money because it could mess with my ability to make wagers and take calculated risks. So it’s still hard to believe it will be actual prize money coming my way soon.”
Jackson said that he kept his momentum going by making sure he remained energized and focused.
“A returning champion finds out pretty quickly that Jeopardy! is actually, under the surface, an endurance contest,” he said. “A whole week’s worth of episodes gets taped in a day, with maybe 10 minutes of rest between each episode, though there is a slightly longer lunch break. A huge part of staying alive as a contestant comes down to whether you can stay alert, and a lot of people tire out quickly while the studio lights are on and adrenaline is high. I tried to pay close attention to whether I was getting hungry or fatigued or dehydrated, and made sure to correct that with a small snack between shows, or some jumping jacks, or whatever I needed. I think that has made a big positive difference.”
Jackson said he plans to donate 10% of his winnings to charitable causes. And he may win even more. His streak has qualified him for a spot in the upcoming Tournament of Champions, airing November 9-20.
Jeopardy! is produced by Sony Pictures Television.