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Ken Jennings, Greatest 'Jeopardy!' Player of All Time, will speak at SIU

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

    Trivia master Ken Jennings will speak at SIU next week.
    Provided by SIU University Communications

updated: 9/7/2021 1:35 AM

CARBONDALE -- 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 Shryock Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. about "Importance of Education: Artificial Intelligence and Knowledge in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, the role of higher education shaping the next 150 years."

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

Afterward 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.

Legendary gamesman

Recently, Jennings 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 that has earned him millions of dollars and worldwide fame. 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 has won several other special Jeopardy! Tournaments and also 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?"

Love of trivia and knowledge

Jennings has had a life-long love of trivia and knowledge. A Seattle native, he grew up in Korea and Singapore where his father was an attorney. He grew up watching Jeopardy! on Armed Forces Network and later attended Brigham Young University where he captained the successful quiz bowl team. During this time, he also wrote and edited questions for a company that organizes college and high school quiz competitions nationally.

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.

Success led to new career

Jennings' celebrity status led to guest spots on "The Tonight Show," The Late Show with "David Letterman," "Live with Regis and Kelly" and "Sesame Street." National media nicknamed him "the Michael Jordan of Trivia."

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.

Campus visit

While on campus, Jennings will also meet with students earlier in the day.

SIU is committed to protecting the community, so all those attending Jennings' campus presentation and book signing must wear masks and follow current campus and state pandemic safety protocols.

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