April 11, 2012 in Book
Kenneth Wayne “Ken” Jennings III (born May 23, 1974) is an American game show contestant and author. Jennings is noted for holding the record for the longest winning streak on the U.S. syndicated game show Jeopardy! and as being the all-time leading money winner on American game shows. In 2004, Jennings won 74 Jeopardy! games before he was defeated by challenger Nancy Zerg on his 75th appearance. His total earnings on Jeopardy! are $3,172,700, consisting of $2,520,700 over his 74 wins, a $2,000 second-place prize in his 75th appearance, a $500,000 second-place prize in the Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions, as well as half of a $300,000 prize in the IBM Challenge.
During his first run of Jeopardy! appearances, Jennings earned the record for the highest American game show winnings. His total was surpassed by Brad Rutter, who defeated Jennings in the finals of the Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions (first aired on May 25, 2005), adding $2,000,000 to Rutter’s existing Jeopardy! winnings. Jennings regained the record after appearing on several other game shows, culminating in an appearance on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (first aired on October 10, 2008), though Rutter retains the Jeopardy! record.
After his success on Jeopardy!, Jennings wrote of his experience and explored American trivia history and culture in his book Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs, published in 2006.
Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks Ken Jennings takes readers on a world tour of geogeeks from the London Map Fair to the bowels of the Library of Congress, from the prepubescent geniuses at the National Geographic Bee to the computer programmers at Google Earth. Each chapter delves into a different aspect of map culture: highpointing, geocaching, road atlas rallying, even the “unreal estate” charted on the maps of fiction and fantasy. Jennings also considers the ways in which cartography has shaped our history, suggesting that the impulse to make and read maps is as relevant today as it has ever been.
From the “Here be dragons” parchment maps of the Age of Discovery to the spinning globes of grade school to the postmodern revolution of digital maps and GPS, Maphead is filled with intriguing details, engaging anecdotes, and enlightening analysis. If you’re an inveterate map lover yourself—or even if you’re among the cartographically clueless who can get lost in a supermarket—let Ken Jennings be your guide to the strange world of mapheads.