Leonard Cooper 'Jeopardy!' and Other Great Contestants in the Show's History


I honestly believe that if the categories were in my favor (Sports, NBC Sitcoms, Four-Letter Words, Pearl Jam, Track and Field, Leslie Nielsen movies, things like that), I could do really well on Jeopardy! If you put me up against categories like 17th Century Poetry or Engineering, however, I would be toast.

For argument's sake, let's say the Jeopardy! category gods were with me and supplied me with exactly what I needed. Let's say I didn't succumb to nerves and remembered to say "What is?" and "Who is?" to begin every question.

Then, let's say that I somehow racked up enough money to have an insurmountable lead going into Final Jeopardy and unless I idiotically bid any money, I would win. Now let's imagine that I had the gusto to write my Final Jeopardy question out as: "What is I don't Know? But I just won $75,000!!!"

You'd kind of have to hate me right? But wouldn't you also have to respect the awesomeness I brought to the table? Well, you don't have to actually think about it, because this is essentially what happened on the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament on Tuesday night. Leonard Cooper of Little Rock, Ark., knew he had the tournament won, and instead of trying to answer Final Jeopardy, the kid with the fro wrote: "WHO is some guy in Normandy. But I just won $75,000!" He wagered $0.

Without a doubt, Cooper is the greatest player in Jeopardy! history. Counting Cooper, here are the four greatest Jeopardy! stars of all time:

1. Brad Rutter

He won the Ultimate Tournament of Champions and has earned the most money in Jeopardy! history. He never lost a match to a human being.

2. Watson the Computer

It's not quite fair that a computer can be one of the biggest stars in the show's history, but Watson was a darn good player. The computer was so good that he defeated the two best human contestants in the show's history.

3. Ken Jennings

Ken Jennings won 74 (!!!) consecutive rounds of Jeopardy! That is an unreal number. While he did become quite smug in his winnings, the sheer number of times in a row that Jennings was on top of his game is awe inspiring. He did lose to Rutter in the Ultimate Tournament of Champions and was handled with ease by Watson, but Jennings became a pop culture phenomenon during his 74 match streak. 

4.  Leonard Cooper

With a fro and an attitude that can't be beat, Cooper placed himself above anyone else with his play as champion of the Teen Tournament. Even the great Alex Trebek couldn't help but laugh and enjoy being in Cooper's presence. 

If I am on Jeopardy in the next four years and see "All Time Greats" as a category, I expect to hear Trebek read this answer:

"He was the greatest Jeopardy! player of all time."

I'll know exactly the question to ask.