ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After 19 games and more than $500,000 in winnings, an Albuquerque math teacher’s near record-setting run on Jeopardy! is over.
“As soon as I saw ‘Sydney Opera House,’ I said, ‘Yup… I’m done,'” said Jason Zuffranieri.
He was ahead by about $10,000 heading into Final Jeopardy. A question about world landmarks popped up and Zuffranieri didn’t know the answer. However, his opponent, Gabe Brison-Trezise, did, and Brison-Trezise wagered his whole $11,000 sum. He got it right and he jumped into the lead.
“In a previous game, I got a question wrong about an African landmark and it almost wiped me out. Then I actually got wiped out on something that is world landmarks, so I think I am officially not a fan of landmarks,” said Zuffranieri.
Zuffranieri wasn’t ready for his streak to be over and wanted to keep playing. “I was definitely ready to keep going and I was hoping and it wasn’t my time I guess,” said Zuffranieri.
However, he still sees his time on the show as accomplishing a life-long goal. “I remember in high school flying out to Los Angeles and failing a test in the Jeopardy! studio,” said Zuffranieri.
It took Zuffranieri 10 years to become a contestant on the show. “[I auditioned in] 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and then it finally worked out. I had a tryout in Phoenix in 2017,” said Zuffranieri.
He tried for so long because he had admired the show, and the host, Alex Trebek, since the ’80s. “I thought of him as almost like a god walking among us,” said Zuffranieri.
Zuffranieri is now among the “Jeopardy gods,” taking the number three spot for all-time highest cash winnings, walking away with more than $532,000. “There’s definitely going to be a little bit of celebrating. There are some collector’s items I’d like to go out and get,” said Zuffranieri.
Zuffranieri is still teaching at Albuquerque Academy. He’s looking forward to getting married this winter and taking a much-deserved study break. “It was just such a joy to play and a blessing to play, and I look forward to getting back to watching it again and not knowing what was going to happen,” said Zuffranieri.
Zuffranieri will play in the Tournament of Champions late next year.