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Jeopardy! Host Mayim Bialik Shares Thoughts On Recent Frequency Of Winning Streaks

Jeopardy! has long been known for its tricky questions, and for decades has challenged players with its difficult combination of obscure factoids and punny categories, with many a contestant sent packing over the years. In recent years, though, seemingly more individuals than one might expect have been beating Jeopardy! at its own game, racking up impressive winning streaks and taking home bundles of cash. Why the sudden shift? Current Jeopardy! host Mayim Bialik has an idea, though it probably won't appease many conspiracy theorists out there.

Mayim Bialik recently caught up with The Wrap to chat about the second season of her Fox sitcom Call Me Kat, and Jeopardy!'s more recent string of attention-grabbing winning streaks came up. After Amy Schneider played her last game in a remarkable 40-episode stint, which itself came shortly after Matt Amodio’s record-climbing win streak, many fans wondered why these extended runs are becoming more common. Mayim Bialik said: 

I think it’s kind of like the stock market. Like, if you look at it over a period of five years, 10 years, I think there’s probably more of these kinds of trends. Do I think people are smarter now? No. Is there more information available that never was before? Absolutely. I think it’s been a really fun and special time.

Mayim Bialik does have a point. In the age of the Internet, nearly any piece of information can be accessed in the blink of an eye with a smartphone and a 5G data plan. Past Jeopardy! contestants would have had to page through heavy tomes and academic journals to prepare for their intellectual showdown, while modern challengers can skim the surface of a particular subject in seconds. Some may claim that takes the fun out of Jeopardy!, but Mayim Bialik seems to disagree. 

Because generally speaking, no amount of time spent venturing down Wikipedia rabbit holes can account for the good ol' luck of the draw. (And skills with the buzzer.) She explained: 

But you know, that’s also the fun of Jeopardy! You never know what’s going to happen. Someone can seem like they’re winning, winning, winning, and anything can happen — they can have a tummy ache. And that kind of changes the course of their day.

One such example? Amy Schneider became the first woman to win over $1 million on Jeopardy!, surviving through a 40-game winning streak, but after answering countless questions correctly across a wide variety of subjects, she was bested by a round of Final Jeopardy with the fairly mundane category “Countries of the World.” Not something anyone would have predicted. 

And just a month before Amy Schneider’s first game, contestant Matt Amodio capped off a winning streak that lasted for 38 episodes. And who can forget the gambling man James Holzhauer, who appeared to be unstoppable through most of his 32-game streak. Of course, none of these contestants has come close to beating Ken Jennings’ record of 74 wins in a row, although Amy Schnider will earn the chance to add more victories to her belt when she competes in the next Tournament of Champions.

Both Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings will continue to share their Jeopardy! hosting duties for the remainder of 2022, although the star of The Big Bang Theory will helm the next National College Championship. That iteration of the game is only two weeks long, so there’s sadly no chance of another epic winning streak. You’ll just have to keep watching Jeopardy! every weekday in syndicaiton to see the next chapter of trivia history. 

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.