Skateboarding

A skateboarder in the middle of a trick

Skateboarding is the act of rolling on or interacting with a skateboard. Someone who skateboards is a skater (or skateboarder or most fully skateboard rider), though the shortest term may also refer to someone ice skating or roller skating.

Like roller skating, skateboarding is often done for recreation and as a sport, but, more often than ice skating, it is a method of transportation. Skateboarding has been thought of by many as part of the extreme sports family, which also includes (but not restricted to) snowboarding, BMX, and surfing.

History of the skateboard

The history of skateboarding goes hand in hand with the history of the skateboard. Improvements in skateboarding equipment have spurred advancement in skateboarding techniques and new techniques have required new equipment.

Skateboarding has its origins in surfing, and was originally called "sidewalk surfing". While surfing influenced skateboarding in it's early days, now the reverse is also true. Surfers are adapting skateboarding tricks into surfing, and the result is evolution in both sports.

The first skateboard

The first commercial skateboard was the Roller Derby Skateboard that was introduced in 1959. Before this skateboards were home made pieces of wooden planks with roller skates attached to the bottom. At the time there was a rapidly growing interest in skateboarding (sometimes referred to as sidewalk surfing) and soon many other similar products emerged. The boards were from 6 to 7 inches wide. These boards used wheels made of clay. They had poor traction and would come to a dead stop when rolling over even small pebbles. This made skateboarding inherently a dangerous sport and after a few years many cities banned skateboarding because of liability concerns. This development caused the first skateboarding fad to die completely in the fall of 1965. Many skateboard manufacturers went out of business because of losing money on cancelled orders for the Christmas holiday season.

The second generation

In 1970 Frank Nasworthy started to develop a skateboard wheel made of urethane. The improvement in traction and performance was so immense that popularity of skateboarding started to rise rapidly again. With the growing interest companies started to invest more in product development and many companies started to manufacture trucks especially designed for skateboarding. As the equipment became more maneuverable the decks started to get wider, reaching widths of 10 inches and over in the end, thus giving the skateboarder even more control. Manufacturers started to experiment with more exotic composites, like fiberglass and aluminium but the common skateboards were made of maple plywood. The skateboarders took advantage of the improved handling of their skateboards and started inventing new tricks. Skateboarders, most notably the Z-Boys, started to skate the vertical walls of swimming pools that were left empty in the 1976 California drought. With increased control skateboarders could skate faster and perform more dangerous tricks. This caused liability concerns and increased insurance costs to skatepark owners. Many skateparks went out of business and the parks were torn down or bulldozed. In the end of 1980, skateboarding had died again.

The third generation

The third skateboard generation, from early eighties to early nineties, was started by skateboard companies that actively promoted their sport. The focus was initially on halfpipe and vert ramp skateboarding. The invention of the ollie made it possible for skaters to perform huge airs off vertical ramps. With vert skating being dominant decks were initially very wide with large and wide wheels, though as time progressed and skateparks became fewer in number, street skating was gaining popularity, causing a change in both deck shape and wheel size. Manufacturers preferred maple plywood over more exotic composite materials almost exclusively. The third skateboarding generation was killed by the global economical recession in the early 90's.

The current generation

The size and shape of the fourth and current generation of skateboards is dominated by one trick: the ollie. The boards are all about 7.75" wide and 31.5" long. The wheels have an extremely hard durometer so that they will slide better during grind and slide tricks. The wheel sizes are relatively small so that the boards will rotate more easily during flip tricks. In the early 1990's, the wheels were only marginally larger than the bearings they encased to make complicated flip tricks easier but that fad died in 1994 and wheels currently are around 50 to 58mm in diameter. The decks are still almost always maple plywood but interest in high technology materials has increased slightly after the cost of manufacturing them has dropped.

Trick skating

see: Skateboarding trick for detailed description of trick skating maneuvers

Even young children can have fun at the skatepark.

With the evolution of skateboard parks (or skateparks) and ramp riding, the skateboard began to change. Skating was originally basically two-dimensional tricks (e.g. riding on only the front wheels (nose manual), spinning like an ice skater on the back wheels (a 360), high jumping over a bar, long jumping from one board to another (often over fearless teenagers lying on their backs), slalom, etc.) Around 1978 or so, street riding became transformed by the invention of the ollie or no hands aerial, the first modern skateboarding trick, by Alan "Ollie" Gelfand. To ollie is to fly off the ground (flat or a wall) with the board, but without holding onto the board and then landing back on the board. It involves using your feet to press against the board in various complicated combinations, depending on the trick to be performed. The trick was reinvented by Rodney Mullen in the 80's, being transferred to the horizontal plane and used as a trick for freestyle skating (a style of skating popular in the 70's and 80's based on stationary maneuvers). No longer is the trick to fly from one place to another. On the way the board can twist and flip, as can the rider, then to be united before hitting ground. The development of these complex tricks went from the street to the vertical tops of the half pipes (and other terrains).

Very skillful skateboarders often become famous through sponsorship and endorsements. Examples include Tony Hawk (who has a series of video games in his name), Bob Burnquist, Rodney Mullen, Mike Vallely, Steve Caballero, Bam Margera and Josh Kalis (who has appeared in numerous television advertisements for DC Shoes). Hawk has recently appeared in the MTV music video awards. In the vert world, some are surpassing the skills of Tony Hawk. Recently his signature trick, the "900," was performed by an Italian skater named Georgio Zattoni and a Brazillian skater by the name of Sandro Dias. Also, Danny Way is considered by some to be the most innovative and daring skater, flying across the "DC Megaramps", and planning on jumping both the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canyon. Many styles today are a mimic of Tom Penny, who is a pioneer and in the early 1990s was the first skater to catch his flip tricks in mid air.

All this from an object that was never designed to lock into grinds, flip in the air or do the tricks performed by today's skateboarders. Throwing themselves down large stairs and handrails only ups the ante in the modern skateboarding world. Today's skateboarders not only differ greatly from those only 10 years ago in terms of tricks and consistency, but also style, which is a very important aspect in the way skateboarders are marketed by skateboarding companies.

Famous Skateboarders

  • Jay Adams
  • Tony Alva
  • Mark Appleyard
  • Stephen Berra
  • Bob Burnquist
  • Steve Caballero
  • Kareem Campbell
  • Rune Glifberg
  • Mark Gonzales
  • Tony Hawk
  • Heath Kirchart
  • Eric Koston
  • Bucky Lasek
  • Jason Lee
  • Bam Margera
  • Guy Mariano
  • Rodney Mullen
  • Chad Muska
  • Tom Penny
  • Stacy Peralta
  • Andrew Reynolds
  • Geoff Rowley
  • Kanten Russell
  • Arto Saari
  • Elissa Steamer
  • Aaron Suski
  • Ed Templeton
  • Jamie Thomas
  • Tony Trujillo
  • Mike Vallely
  • Danny Way

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Today's skateboarders not only differ greatly from those only 10 years ago in terms of tricks and consistency, but also style, which is a very important aspect in the way skateboarders are marketed by skateboarding companies. Its format is unknown, but it is already said it will be far different from the network's previous game show offering, Win Ben Stein's Money. Throwing themselves down large stairs and handrails only ups the ante in the modern skateboarding world. Comedy Central has announced that they have inked a deal for Ken to host a new game show on their network, likely to begin in the autumn of 2005. All this from an object that was never designed to lock into grinds, flip in the air or do the tricks performed by today's skateboarders. Also starring Dennis Haysbert, the advertisements parody a typical Final Jeopardy! situation, and parody Ken's usual style of guessing at answers by having him answer the question in a humorous, over-the-top inquisitive fashion. Many styles today are a mimic of Tom Penny, who is a pioneer and in the early 1990s was the first skater to catch his flip tricks in mid air. Ken Jennings also is appearing on commercials for Allstate Insurance.

Recently his signature trick, the "900," was performed by an Italian skater named Georgio Zattoni and a Brazillian skater by the name of Sandro Dias. Also, Danny Way is considered by some to be the most innovative and daring skater, flying across the "DC Megaramps", and planning on jumping both the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canyon. The first of these commercials, portraying Jennings as having lots of "friends & family" (coming out of the woodwork, because he is now "stinking rich") started airing in February, 2005. In the vert world, some are surpassing the skills of Tony Hawk. The SBC Communications and BellSouth joint venture Cingular Wireless LLC has signed Jennings to appear in commercials. Hawk has recently appeared in the MTV music video awards. Ken himself appeared in the commercial. Examples include Tony Hawk (who has a series of video games in his name), Bob Burnquist, Rodney Mullen, Mike Vallely, Steve Caballero, Bam Margera and Josh Kalis (who has appeared in numerous television advertisements for DC Shoes). University Games is also producing a Can you Beat Ken? board game to be released in approximately May of 2005.

Very skillful skateboarders often become famous through sponsorship and endorsements. He is also engaged in speaking deals through the Massachusetts-based speakers agency, American Program Bureau (http://www.apbspeakers.com/themes/DefaultView/Site?aspx?PAGE=HOME). The development of these complex tricks went from the street to the vertical tops of the half pipes (and other terrains). Jennings has also agreed to a deal with Microsoft to promote their Encarta encyclopedia software, and has signed a deal with Bertelsmann AG for a book to be published through one of their book divisions in 2005. On the way the board can twist and flip, as can the rider, then to be united before hitting ground. Jennings accepted the offer, and in another news story (http://www.tvbarn.com/ticker2004/archives/028052.shtml), H&RB officials reported that they had offered similar services to other individuals in the past. No longer is the trick to fly from one place to another. According to H&RB statements, Jennings could pay over $1.045 million alone in taxes, more than any quiz show contestant.

The trick was reinvented by Rodney Mullen in the 80's, being transferred to the horizontal plane and used as a trick for freestyle skating (a style of skating popular in the 70's and 80's based on stationary maneuvers). H&R Block, the firm named in the answer he 'missed', announced in a press release (http://www.hrblock.com/presscenter/pressreleases/pressRelease.jsp?PRESS_RELEASE_ID=1245) that they were offering him a deal for free tax preparation and financial services for the rest of his life. It involves using your feet to press against the board in various complicated combinations, depending on the trick to be performed. Jennings’ success has resulted in him being a popular individual amongst corporations looking for public endorsers. To ollie is to fly off the ground (flat or a wall) with the board, but without holding onto the board and then landing back on the board.
. riding on only the front wheels (nose manual), spinning like an ice skater on the back wheels (a 360), high jumping over a bar, long jumping from one board to another (often over fearless teenagers lying on their backs), slalom, etc.) Around 1978 or so, street riding became transformed by the invention of the ollie or no hands aerial, the first modern skateboarding trick, by Alan "Ollie" Gelfand. By finishing second ahead of Vered, Jennings not only tied Lygo's 150 opponents defeated record, but joined Rutter as the only two American game show contestants to top $3 million (US) in total winnings.

Skating was originally basically two-dimensional tricks (e.g. The winner of the tournament and $2 million prize was Brad Rutter, with a total of $62,000 earned over the three days. With the evolution of skateboard parks (or skateparks) and ramp riding, the skateboard began to change. Jerome Vered finished with a total of $20,600 for third place. see: Skateboarding trick for detailed description of trick skating maneuvers. In the final, Jennings faced off against Jerome Vered and Brad Rutter in a three day tournament for $2 million ($500,000 for 2nd place and $250,000 for third place). After the three days, Ken Jennings finished in 2nd place with a tally of $34,599. The decks are still almost always maple plywood but interest in high technology materials has increased slightly after the cost of manufacturing them has dropped. If Jennings won the three-day final, he would have broken Lygo's record.

In the early 1990's, the wheels were only marginally larger than the bearings they encased to make complicated flip tricks easier but that fad died in 1994 and wheels currently are around 50 to 58mm in diameter. During his original run, Jennings defeated 149 opponents. The wheel sizes are relatively small so that the boards will rotate more easily during flip tricks. In the Ultimate Tournament of Champions, Jennings had a chance to break Lygo's record of defeating 150 opponents. The wheels have an extremely hard durometer so that they will slide better during grind and slide tricks. After Jennings' 75th show, he tied Lygo's record of 75 consecutive appearances and, with 74 wins, he almost reached Lygo's record of 75 consecutive game show wins. The boards are all about 7.75" wide and 31.5" long. Ian Lygo appeared on the British game show 100% 75 consecutive times and won every game until he was forced to retire by the show's producers.

The size and shape of the fourth and current generation of skateboards is dominated by one trick: the ollie. Jennings broke almost every game show record in his run. The third skateboarding generation was killed by the global economical recession in the early 90's. Oddly, however, during the 74th game, which aired on Monday, November 29, Gilbert resumed announcing the number of games. Manufacturers preferred maple plywood over more exotic composite materials almost exclusively. To make it more difficult for viewers to keep track of Ken's progress towards his final episode, in early September 2004 the show's announcer, Johnny Gilbert, ceased mentioning the number of games that Jennings had won, as had been the show's custom. However, some people in the studio audience reported that he was still announcing them, possibly meaning those parts had been edited out of the airing. With vert skating being dominant decks were initially very wide with large and wide wheels, though as time progressed and skateparks became fewer in number, street skating was gaining popularity, causing a change in both deck shape and wheel size. The reasoning behind the early airing was reportedly due to a technician running the wrong tape.

The invention of the ollie made it possible for skaters to perform huge airs off vertical ramps. In an interesting turn of events, the 75th episode was aired early in the Macon, Georgia area (on WMAZ-TV, see here (http://www.freep.com/entertainment/tvandradio/tv1e_20041201.htm)) on Friday, November 26, 2004. The focus was initially on halfpipe and vert ramp skateboarding. Later on, it was determined that Ken Jennings did indeed lose as initially reported with the failing episode shown in most cities across North America on Tuesday, November 30, 2004. The third skateboard generation, from early eighties to early nineties, was started by skateboard companies that actively promoted their sport. Despite this, Jeopardy! refused to comment. In the end of 1980, skateboarding had died again. A few days later, another rumor spread giving out an incorrect first name of the contestant that had beat him.

Many skateparks went out of business and the parks were torn down or bulldozed. (Jeopardy! tapes five shows per day.) This incident was reported by TV Week and the Associated Press, appearing in hundreds of newspapers across the United States. This caused liability concerns and increased insurance costs to skatepark owners. In a rumor (http://www.kottke.org/04/09/some-ken-jennings-news) disclosed on Wednesday, September 8, 2004, two sources who were at the taping on September 7, 2004 reported that Jennings had lost on his 75th episode, taped the day before, with total winnings at around $2.5 million. Skateboarders, most notably the Z-Boys, started to skate the vertical walls of swimming pools that were left empty in the 1976 California drought. With increased control skateboarders could skate faster and perform more dangerous tricks. Jennings' adjusted total of $37,500 puts him ahead of that mark. The skateboarders took advantage of the improved handling of their skateboards and started inventing new tricks. Four contestants finished with scores of $30,000 or higher in the pre-doubling era, led by Jerome Vered's score of $34,000.

Manufacturers started to experiment with more exotic composites, like fiberglass and aluminium but the common skateboards were made of maple plywood. Jennings's top score of $75,000 is the highest ever, even if it is adjusted for the seasons before the clue values were doubled. As the equipment became more maneuverable the decks started to get wider, reaching widths of 10 inches and over in the end, thus giving the skateboarder even more control. Jennings has reached the $50,000 mark eleven times, with wins of $75,000, $55,099, $52,000 (three times), and $50,000 (six times). With the growing interest companies started to invest more in product development and many companies started to manufacture trucks especially designed for skateboarding. Myron Meyer won $50,000 on September 5, 2002, and Brian Weikle won $52,000 on April 14, 2003. The improvement in traction and performance was so immense that popularity of skateboarding started to rise rapidly again. Prior to Jennings's run, the $50,000 mark had only been reached twice before.

In 1970 Frank Nasworthy started to develop a skateboard wheel made of urethane. Jennings now also holds most of the top spots in the list of highest single day winnings on Jeopardy!. Many skateboard manufacturers went out of business because of losing money on cancelled orders for the Christmas holiday season. If winnings are further adjusted to make them comparable to the seasons before the clue values were doubled, Jennings's adjusted total of $78,000 would place him 11th in the Trebek era of Jeopardy!, behind Frank Spangenberg ($102,597) and nine others. This development caused the first skateboarding fad to die completely in the fall of 1965. No other Jeopardy! contestant has won more than $150,000 in non-tournament play in the first five days. This made skateboarding inherently a dangerous sport and after a few years many cities banned skateboarding because of liability concerns. The previous record holder, Tom Walsh, won $184,900 in seven days, but only $118,100 of that came in the first five days.

They had poor traction and would come to a dead stop when rolling over even small pebbles. Sean Ryan was the first to break the record, winning six games in October 2003. These boards used wheels made of clay. Jennings won US$156,000 in his first five days on Jeopardy!, so if the five-day rule had not been eliminated, he would still be the all-time non-tournament winner in Jeopardy! history. The boards were from 6 to 7 inches wide. Comprehensive game summaries for each day of Ken Jennings' streak have been compiled here. At the time there was a rapidly growing interest in skateboarding (sometimes referred to as sidewalk surfing) and soon many other similar products emerged. With three consecutive losses in the Ultimate Tournament of Champions in addition to the loss in his previous Jeopardy appearance, Jennings has now lost four episodes in a row.

Before this skateboards were home made pieces of wooden planks with roller skates attached to the bottom. Jennings also holds the record for the number of consecutive losses on Jeopardy. The first commercial skateboard was the Roller Derby Skateboard that was introduced in 1959. Jennings' current total of US$3,022,700 could be increased to US$3,272,700 if he wins the next Tournament of Champions for the season in which his streak ended, thus retaking the title of highest total winnings on Jeopardy or any other game show. Surfers are adapting skateboarding tricks into surfing, and the result is evolution in both sports.
The following records, having been set by Ken Jennings, have now been broken by others:. While surfing influenced skateboarding in it's early days, now the reverse is also true. Jennings bested 149 opponents during his tenure.

Skateboarding has its origins in surfing, and was originally called "sidewalk surfing". ** In 100%, Lygo faced two opponents per game. Improvements in skateboarding equipment have spurred advancement in skateboarding techniques and new techniques have required new equipment. * Lygo was forced to retire by producer RTL Group. The history of skateboarding goes hand in hand with the history of the skateboard. Three game show records remained that Jennings did not tie or break:. Skateboarding has been thought of by many as part of the extreme sports family, which also includes (but not restricted to) snowboarding, BMX, and surfing. He also tied the following records:.

Like roller skating, skateboarding is often done for recreation and as a sport, but, more often than ice skating, it is a method of transportation. During his streak, Jennings broke the following records:. Someone who skateboards is a skater (or skateboarder or most fully skateboard rider), though the shortest term may also refer to someone ice skating or roller skating. During his Jeopardy! appearances, Jennings became known for several quirky behaviors:. Skateboarding is the act of rolling on or interacting with a skateboard. Harry Friedman, Executive Producer of the show, said in the release, "The 2003 rule change, which allows Jeopardy! players to keep playing until they're defeated, raised the question about how other five-time champions might have played under this rule. This tournament is an opportunity to give those past champions another chance to shine." On May 25, Ken Jennings finished second in the Ultimate Tournament of Champions, winning half a million dollars but has been replaced as the number one overall winner of money on a gameshow by Brad Rutter, the two million dollar winner of the Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Danny Way. The three-day finals concluded the event on May 23, May 24, and May 25.

Mike Vallely. The tournament was taped in early 2005 and the tournament began airing on February 9. Tony Trujillo. Guaranteed prize money will be offered to all contestants. Jamie Thomas. The Ultimate Tournament of Champions offered a substantial purse, with a grand prize of $2,000,000 to the winner, $500,000 for second, and $250,000 for third. Ed Templeton. This equaled a total of 145 players, including Jennings.

Aaron Suski. It featured Tournament of Champions Champions, College Championship, and Teen Tournament winners from the show's 21-year run, as well as over 100 undefeated five-time champions. Elissa Steamer. On December 28, 2004, Sony sent out press release announcing their 15-week, 75-show, Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Arto Saari. Work on the series will begin summer 2005 with a launch date set for late 2005 or 1st qtr 2006. Kanten Russell. According to Comedy Central execs, Jennings would co-host and participate but would not elaborate any further on the show’s format.

Geoff Rowley. According to Variety.com (‘Trivia titan gets series’, 5/23/05) Ken Jennings and Michael Davies (Who Wants to be a Millionaire & Win Ben Stein's Money) are teaming up as executive producers on a new game show format for Comedy Central. Andrew Reynolds. Combined with a ten percent tithe, this would leave him approximately $1,230,430 to use for other purposes. Stacy Peralta. H&R Block senior vice president David Byers estimated that Jennings would owe approximately $1.04 million in taxes on his winnings. Tom Penny. Taking advantage of its fame over the crucial clue, H&R Block offered Jennings free financial services for the rest of his life.

Chad Muska. Jeopardy! contestants typically receive their winnings approximately 120 days after their last game airs in the form of a check. Rodney Mullen. When asked what he intended to do with his winnings, Jennings said that he intends to tithe ten percent to his church, donate to public television and National Public Radio, go on a trip to Europe, and invest the rest for his family. Guy Mariano. On May 24th, 2005, Comedy Central announced that Jennings would be the host of a new comedic quiz show to replace the cancelled Chappelle's Show". Bam Margera. A&E aired on December 1, 2004 an episode of the Biography television program on Jennings and other Jeopardy! notables, including Frank Spangenberg and Eddie Timanus.

Jason Lee. TV Guide featured a segment of "The Top Ten TV Moments of 2004," in which Ken Jennings' loss placed third. Bucky Lasek. While on his media tour following his final game, Jennings taped a segment for a future episode of Sesame Street. Eric Koston. Barbara Walters selected Jennings as one of the "Ten Most Fascinating People of 2004" for her twelfth annual ABC News special, which aired on December 8, 2004. Heath Kirchart. news programming and on Nightline.

Tony Hawk. Jennings appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman to present Letterman's "Top Ten List." He appeared again on the program on the night his final show was televised, in addition to interview segments airing that night on local 11 p.m. Mark Gonzales. it's not like Millionaire.". Rune Glifberg. During that guest appearance, Jennings said that, "Jeopardy! is a man's game .. Kareem Campbell. There Jennings revealed that he had failed to qualify for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, also hosted by Regis Philbin.

Steve Caballero. After his 31st win on Jeopardy!, during the summer break between tapings, Jennings made a guest appearance on Live with Regis and Kelly. Bob Burnquist. Jennings has received a good deal of American media coverage. Stephen Berra. Jeopardy! ratings went up 62 percent during his run on the show (11.1 million viewers was a ten-year high); for three weeks in July 2004 and for most of the latter part of Jennings's run, it surpassed traditional leader Wheel of Fortune to become television's highest-rated syndicated program. Mark Appleyard. Jennings's winning streak on Jeopardy! has made him something of a celebrity.

Tony Alva. On December 1, the show broke with tradition by having Jennings make a "guest appearance" at the start of the broadcast, during which host Alex Trebek acknowledged his success and enumerated the various game show records he'd broken. Jay Adams. Along the way, Jennings defeated at least three contestants who are current quiz bowl players; in fact, according to a Washington Post article, at least one fellow NAQT employee was selected to appear on the show during Jennings' run (but, as someone with more than a casual acquaintance with Jennings, could not compete against him because of standards and practices rules). Zerg was defeated the following day, finishing in third place with $2, while Jennings' running time period totaled 182 calendar days, including his first and last appearances. Most who saw the show would say this assessment was in keeping with his genial personality, since Zerg never appeared to be a serious contender until Jennings stumbled in the second half.

Jennings reported in an interview that the loss was "no fluke" and that Zerg was a formidable opponent. Immediately after she won, Alex Trebek dubbed her a "giant-killer" for her accomplishment of finally beating the long-standing champ. Zerg answered correctly, and she and Jennings shook hands and hugged as the audience gave the two of them a standing ovation. Jennings's final total, along with his second-place money, was $2,522,700.

The Final Jeopardy category was "Business and Industry"; the clue was: "Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year." The correct response was: "What is H&R Block?"; Jennings responded with "what is FedEx?". But Jennings proved to be his own worst enemy by 'missing' both Double Jeopardy! Daily Double questions (on which he had placed his usual high wagers) and the Final Jeopardy! question. The third contestant, David Hankins, completed the Double Jeopardy round with a negative amount and was not allowed to participate in Final Jeopardy. On November 30, 2004, Jennings' long reign as Jeopardy! champion finally came to an end when he lost his 75th game to challenger Nancy Zerg, who initially did not appear to be a threat to the champion.

In theory, if Jennings had remained undefeated though the 2005-2006 season, there wouldn’t be a tournament of Champions for that season, because Jennings would be the sole champion. Since he did not lose before the 2004 Tournament was taped (which then aired from September 20 through October 1), he will have to wait until the 2005-06 season to compete in the Tournament of Champions. Jennings's run began with the episode aired on Monday, June 2, 2004, and spanned two seasons. After this rule change, and until Jennings' run, the record winning streak was set by Tom Walsh, who won $186,900 ($184,900 in his winning episodes) in eight games in January 2004.

At the beginning of the show's 20th season (in 2003), the rules were changed to allow contestants to remain on the show as long as they continued to win. Prior to 2003, Jeopardy! contestants were limited to five consecutive games. He and his wife Mindy have a son named Dylan. He was a software engineer for CHG, a healthcare-placement firm.

He also writes questions and edits the literature and mythology categories for the National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT), a quiz bowl organization. Now residing in Murray, Utah (a suburb of Salt Lake City), Jennings identifies himself as an avid comic book and movie buff with a website listing his top 2000 favorite movies. He served a two-year mission in Madrid, Spain from 1993 to 1995. Jennings is a Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jennings graduated with a degree in computer science and English at Brigham Young University, where he played on the school's quiz bowl team for three years. He completed an International Baccalaureate diploma at Seoul Foreign School, and achieved honors at both Brigham Young and the University of Washington. He watched Jeopardy! on the American Forces Network television while growing up. Born in Edmonds, Washington, Jennings grew up in Seoul, South Korea (1981–1992) and Singapore (1992–1996), where his father worked for an international law firm and then as Asia Pacific Division Counsel of Oracle Corporation. Jennings held the record for most winnings on any game show ever played until the end of the Ultimate Tournament of Champions on May 25, 2005, when he was displaced by Brad Rutter.

His total winnings on Jeopardy! are $3,022,700 ($2,520,700 during his original run, and $500,000 in the Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions). 74 games before he was defeated by Nancy Zerg on his 75th appearance. He will often say "What's...?" instead of "What is...?". When guessing, he would phrase his responses in such a way as to make it clear he was in doubt of the answer himself, and openly expressed surprise when he gave the correct response.

He often shook his head in disbelief when his total cash winnings were announced at the start of each episode/game. Jennings has only made three other attempts to break Weikle's $52,000 record (in his 30th, 39th, and 65th games), but incorrect Final Jeopardy! responses prevented him from succeeding. On his 71st game, he broke the record a second time with a win of $55,099. However, in his 38th game, Jennings entered Final Jeopardy with a total only $600 shy of the record (and, in fact, had exceeded the record in the Double Jeopardy round before missing a question at the end), and beat it with a final total of $75,000.

Prior to his 30th game, Jennings did not want to beat the $52,000 single-day record of former five-day champion Brian Weikle just "for the sake of beating it" (from the Jeopardy! forums). He intentionally tied his record three times. Host Alex Trebek commented on this several times, and he even occasionally guessed what wager Jennings would make. On Final Jeopardy and the Daily Doubles he almost always wagered an amount that could bring his total to a multiple of $5,000 or $1,000. He often pronounced foreign words, phrases, or locations with an accent.

Also, he supposedly keeps a little piece of a fan's "popo" (pillow) in his coat pocket. He kept a plush "Totoro" toy, from the movie My Neighbor Totoro in his pocket, as a good luck charm. Each day he wrote his name in a different way, with styles ranging from simple (such as cursive script or block letters) to artistic (such as dots or a bas relief outline).

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