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Jeopardy! picks all-star teams to celebrate 35th anniversary

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Who are 18 of the biggest winners of the past two decades?

Not selected: French Stewart, Turd Ferguson, Sean Connery.
Broadway Video/NBC

Jeopardy! celebrates its 35th anniversary this February with a two week All-Star tournament featuring 18 of its most popular past champions. They were drafted today into six teams, representing hundreds of thousands of dollars in winnings and victory streaks spanning several weeks.

The No. 1 draft pick was Alex Jacob of Greensboro, N.C. whose six-game winning streak and Tournament of Champions victory in 2015 won him more than $400,000. Alex was selected first by Buzzy Cohen of Los Angeles, one of six team captains chosen for their prolific winning and crowd appeal.

Cohen, who in 2016 won more than $150,000 in a series of blowouts that featured snarky Final Jeopardy answers, joined all time money winner Brad Rutter of Los Angeles ($4.3 million) and Ken Jennings of Seattle, probably the most famous Jeopardy! contestant ever and owner of a record 74-show winning streak from 2004.

Other captains included Colby Burnett of Chicago (a two-time tournament winner); Julia Collins of Kenilworth, Ill. (20 victories, top female champion); and Austin Rogers of New York ($461,000 in winnings).

The teams (mentally, you must now make a boop-boop-boop-beep-boop-beep-boop-boo sound as the board is assembled):

  • Colby Burnett (captain), Pam Mueller of Culver City, Calif. (2000 College Tournament champion, multiple semifinalist in the Tournament of Champions) and Alan Lin of Riverside, Calif. (top three in 2017 Tournament of Champions).
  • Buzzy Cohen (captain), Alex Jacob and Jennifer Giles of Longmont, Colo. (winner of the 2015 Teachers’ Tournament).
  • Julia Collins (captain), Ben Ingram of Lake Wylie, S.C. (a Tournament of Champions winner and friend of Collins) and Seth Wilson of Chicago, (12-time winner, top 5 in victories all time).
  • Ken Jennings (captain), Matt Jackson of Washington (No. 4 all time in victories) and Monica Thieu of New York (a College Tournament champion).
  • Austin Rogers (captain), Roger Craig of Jersey City, N.J. (most money won in a single game, known for big bets on Daily Doubles) and Leonard Cooper of Little Rock, Ark., (the memorable 2013 Teen Tournament winner).
  • Brad Rutter (captain), Larissa Kelly of Richmond, Va. (first woman with a winning streak longer than 5, top 10 in victories) and David Madden of Ridgewood, N.J. (a 19-time winner, the third longest streak).

The Jeopardy! All-Star Games will be taped in January and will air from Feb. 20 to March 5. Under the format, each team will designate a player for the Jeopardy! Double Jeopardy! and Final Jeopardy! rounds. Teams will be eliminated based on their point totals through the tournament. The top three teams will be matched in a two-day final that delivers $1 million to the winners.

Jeopardy!, the daily syndicated show viewers and fans are most familiar with (it had a daytime run in the 1960s and 1970s) began airing on Sept. 10, 1984. It has won the most Daytime Emmys (15) in the best game show category. Host Alex Trebek has won five for his role as the host, plus a lifetime achievement award in 2011.