Jeopardy Game Show – Rules, History And Tournaments

Jeopardy! was created by Merv Griffin (who also created Wheel of Fortune) and released in 1964, before becoming one of the world’s most recognizable trivia game shows. Part of its appeal with contestants and audiences alike is that it requires a mixture of strategy, knowledge and quick thinking to play at a high level.

Rules of Jeopardy

In Jeopardy! contestants compete against each other by answering with the question that leads to the revealed clue across a range of different categories. Players must answer clues by selecting 1 of 30 tiles from a 6 x 5 grid. 

Different categories are represented by each column, white rows denote the difficulty of the clue. Clues on the top row are the easiest and are worth the lowest amount of money, while clues on the bottom row are worth more money as they are harder to solve.

In order, the game is played across three different rounds as follows: 

  • The Jeopardy! round
  • The Double Jeopardy! round
  • The Final Jeopardy! round

Jeopardy! Round is the game’s first round, with 6 categories that each contain 5 clues. The game’s contestants take turns selecting a clue to solve by announcing the clue’s category and value.

After the clue has been selected, the host of the game will read the clue aloud for everybody to hear. Unlike other game shows, the contestant needs to respond to the clue in the form of a question (Example: If the clue is “A piece of handheld equipment used to control a computer cursor”, the correct answer would be “What is a mouse?”. 

By answering the clue correctly the contestant will earn the value of the clue, but if the answer they give is incorrect they will lose the same amount. Players will also lose the given amount by failing to respond within the given time limit, which will allow another contestant to buzz in and answer instead. 

The board also contains one “Daily Double” clue in this round that will allow players to wager any amount of their current score before the clue is shown. As before, responding correctly will earn them the wagered amount, while incorrect answers will lose the wagered amount.

Double Jeopardy! is the game’s second round, similar to the first round but with higher stakes at play. The clues provided to players are more difficult to solve and as such, their values are doubled. This round also contains two “Daily Double” clues.

Final Jeopardy! is the game’s third and final round where contestants can wager as much of their current score as they want before they all see a single clue at the same time. After the clue has been given, each contestant has 30 seconds to write their response down. 

Again, correct answers will see players receive their wager while incorrect answers will see their wager removed from their total score. Whichever player has the most money at the end of this round will be declared the winner and will be allowed to keep their cash winnings, while the other contestants will win consolation prizes.

How are Jeopardy categories selected?

  • The categories on the Jeopardy! game board are themes under which each clue is grouped and they are chosen by Jeopardy’s producers and writers.
  • Categories can be general or specific, although they are chosen from within commonly used topics such as history, science, geography etc.
  • To decide on categories, aspects such as a category’s popularity, relevance, difficulty and how diverse the categories are as a whole will all be considered.

Broadcasting history of Jeopardy

  • As of 2024, the most recent edition of Jeopardy! has run for 40 seasons and is currently hosted by Ken Jennings.  
  • 4 main editions of the show have existed since its introduction in 1964.
  • A total of 11,990 episodes of Jeopardy! have been released across its main editions.
  • This amounts to an average of 196.56 episodes per year.
  • The current version of Jeopardy! that began in 1984 has produced 75.81% of all episodes.
YearsNameTotal episodesBroadcasterMain host(s)
1964 – 1975Jeopardy!2,753NBCArt Fleming
1974 – 1975Jeopardy!39Weekly syndicationArt Fleming
1978 – 1979The All-New Jeopardy!108NBCArt Fleming
1984 – 2024Jeopardy!9,090*Daily syndicationAlex Trebek: (1984 – 2020)
Mike Richards: (2020 – 2021)
Ken Jennings & Mayim Bialik [alternating]: (2021 – 2023)
Ken Jennings: (2023 – 2024)
(*up to end of 40th season)

Jeopardy tournaments and champions

Due to the game’s overall popularity, a number of major Jeopardy! Tournaments have taken place over the game’s history. Below we have listed some of the most significant recent tournaments in addition to their winners:

2020Jeopardy! The Greatest of All TimeKen Jennings
2022Jeopardy! National College ChampionshipJaskaran Singh
2022 – 2024Celebrity Jeopardy!Season 1: Ike Barinholtz
Season 2: Lisa Ann Walter
2023 – 2024Jeopardy! MastersSeason 1: James Holzhauer
Season 2: Victoria Groce

Trivia fans often enjoy playing a range of word games such as Wordle, Scrabble and Words With Friends. If this is the case for you, check out WordsRated’s Word Finder tool to give you an edge if you get stuck on the best move to play next!

Jeopardy FAQ

Who is the Jeopardy host?

  • As of 2024, the current host of Jeopardy! is Ken Jennings.
  • Prior to becoming Jeopardy’s permanent host in December 2023, he had won money from 5 different game shows, including $4.52 million from Jeopardy! itself.
  • He also holds various records in the game, such as the game’s longest winning streak and the highest average correct responses per game (at least 300 correct responses).

What is Jeopardy Masters?

  • Jeopardy! Masters is a special tournament which allows elite past champions of the game to compete against each other.
  • In terms of its format, players contest multiple rounds and the player with the highest cumulative score will win overall.
  • Competitors and winners of Jeopardy! Masters have the opportunity to cement their status as the best players in the game’s history. 

Who won Jeopardy Masters?

  • As of 2024, there have been 2 seasons of Jeopardy! Masters, each with a different winner. 
  • The first season which ran in 2023 was won by James Holzhauer.
  • The second season which ran in 2024 was won by Victoria Groce.

What is the Jeopardy music?

  • Jeopardy’s best known theme song was written by the show’s inventor Merv Griffin and is called “Think!”.
  • It has also been the game’s final round countdown music since 1964. 
  • Before becoming synonymous with Jeopardy, it was originally written to be a lullaby for his son. 
  • Before his death, Griffin received a reported $80 million in royalties from the song. 
  • Other Jeopardy! theme tunes have included “Take Ten” by Julian Griffin, “January, February, March” by Merv Griffin and “Frisco Disco” by Merv Griffin.

Where is Jeopardy filmed?

  • Jeopardy! is filmed in Culver City, Los Angeles. 
  • The popular game show is filmed inside Sony Pictures Studios’ Alex Trebek Stage (formerly Stage 10). 
  • Episodes are filmed in real-time two days a week.