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A Closer Look at Jeopardy! Odds

The game show Jeopardy! Has been a part of American culture for a very long time. Everyone has had a moment where they were in front of the TV and able to answer all the questions correctly. There have also been times when viewers were frustrated that the players could not answer a simple question. We took our time to find out more about the trends that could be found when looking back at the past few decades of Jeopardy!

We extrapolated data from 33 seasons of the game show to identify things such as which values are the most difficult to win, which categories over the years have been the most popular, which questions were likely to receive the correct answer and so much more. We also even went further to compare different contestants from different seasons to see who deserves to be crowned the best of the best.

What is the Question/Answer

[Image of Stats for the Odds of Answering Questions]

Have you ever experienced a rush of adrenaline while watching "Jeopardy!" and just knew the answer? Isn't it even better when you get it right while the others get it wrong? We dove into the right-to-wrong answer ratio on "Jeopardy!" over the years and seasons to see how often contestants are truly knowledgeable.

Season eight of "Jeopardy!" with Alex Trebek as host, which started in 1991, featured either some of the show's simplest questions or some of the show's smartest contestants. In 1996, the right-to-wrong answer ratio was more than 4-to-1, setting a new high for the show's 33-season span. Seasons nine and ten had similar success before the ratio began to fall over the next several seasons and eventually levelled out at around 2-to-1. This ratio is modified by question values and categories, as shown below.

The Correct Answer for $100

[Image of Odds of Answering Questions Correctly]

The questions that have been posted in Jeopardy! over the years have not all been of equal calibre. Some are harder than others while others are easier. It is easier to figure out how they all fit together when you look at the questions and their assigned dollar value.

Over the span of 33 seasons, there were roughly nine correct answers for every erroneous answer on round one questions worth $100. This makes it one of the most straightforward values to answer. While the $1,000 questions had the lowest chance of being answered right (nearly 1-to-1), the $500 questions proved to be the second most tough. Furthermore, in both rounds, categories earning $600 and $800 had a ratio of more than 2-to-1, demonstrating that you never know which question would stump you.

High Stakes Wagers

[Statistics on Typical Performance by Gender]

Men and women tend to play the game in different ways even though the rules remain the same regardless of gender. While men got 86% of their responses correct, women got almost as many at 85% of their answers buzzed in as correct. When it comes to the last round, though, they don't always agree, which can be extremely risky.

During the last round, males were more likely than women to take higher risks on getting the answer correct. Women were willing to wager about 29% of their total score, while men were willing to wager about 42% of their winnings. Final Jeopardy can be a make-or-break situation, and males felt more confident in their chances of victory. They bet over $2,000 more on average than the female competitors in the game show.

Categories To Learn More About

[Image of Categories being Examined]

The game show has been aired for many years and it only makes sense that some of the categories are often recycled. There is only so much trivia that can be used in the game show. So, while the categories do get updated from time to time, some can be used over and over for longer periods. Our findings showed that it was the sports category that was reused more often than any other category, and has shown up in 76 different episodes.

The second most popular "Jeopardy!" category was potpourri, which appeared in at least 75 different tapings of the show. Unlike the perfumed arrangement in your in-laws' guest bathroom, potpourri inquiries cover a wide spectrum of topics, resulting in categories such as "the sexiest potpourri ever." While certain categories appear more frequently than others, they are also more difficult to complete. It can be tough to win the Nobel Prize category, and almost as difficult to answer. Over the years, contestants have gotten more questions wrong in this area than in any other. Vice presidents of the US and Africa are two other categories that are sometimes overlooked when you are trying to brush up on your general knowledge.

Top Winners by Occupation

[Image of Stats of Total Winnings based on Contestant’s Occupation]

The variety of categories in the game show will change and there are so many to choose from as well. Some categories will be easier to answer correctly based on a contestant’s occupation. If there is a working knowledge of the category then the contestant is sure to have an advantage.

The average winnings earned by contestants that were administrative assistants was shown to have the highest winnings of any other occupation winning an average of $,600 per appearance. Software engineers, with all of their math and computer science knowledge, and students, who averaged over $1,500 throughout their appearances, were just behind the admin assistants. Most college students are exposed to a wide range of topics over their academic careers, they are more likely to strike at frequent question categories such as American history, business and industry, television and sports. Some of the other top winners also included contestants that were lawyers, teachers, bartenders and editors.

Most Competitive by State

[Image of Stats of the Number of Contestants by State]

It’s not a definitive indication of which states the most intelligent people come from but it does paint a good picture of where these smart people are hiding. The numbers speak for themselves and those that answer more of the questions correctly tend to come from specific regions of the US.

Massachusetts boasts approximately 80 schools and universities, including Harvard University, the country's oldest institution of higher learning, as well as Boston University, which has a student body of about 30,000. With so many curious minds, it's no surprise that the state has 6.3 Jeopardy! contestants per 100,000 citizens.

Throughout the 33 seasons of the game show we analyzed, we also found that New Hampshire, Virginia, Vermont and Maryland all had more than 4.2 contestants that participated in the show. That makes these five states the top five in the entire country.

Earn Your Winnings

We all know that there are many categories when it comes to Jeopardy! The best that you can do is to brush up on some of the most common categories that appear over time. If you are looking to participate or even stand a chance then you will need to brush up on your knowledge before stepping behind the podium. You want to give yourself the best chance of winning, so tp the odds in your favour and devour as much knowledge from the common categories as possible.


We took a long hard look at the archived footage of Jeopardy! We found information on the contestants, the categories, contestants’ occupations, genders and more. All the information was extrapolated from 33 seasons of the game show but does not have all the information about the game show as presented in this study.

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