As Adriana Haremeyer’s Run On Jeopardy Comes To An End, A Final Assessment as her Place Among The All-Time Greats

David B Morris
7 min readJun 21, 2024


Few Jeopardy Champions Have Been So Skilled — And Fewer Still Have Been Blessed By Their Opponents’s Bad Luck

Even as Adriana Harmeyer was winning the hearts of Jeopardy fans these past three weeks, I couldn’t help but think how unique she is among the Jeopardy super-champions. Not just when it comes to skills or knowledge but luck — and not merely her own. I don’t remember a super-champion in the Post-Trebek era, perhaps going back even before the era of James Holzhauer, where Adriana’s fortunes have so frequently depended on the misfortunes of her opponents.

In her sixteen appearances in her original run on Jeopardy Adriana hit exactly sixteen Daily Doubles. Her track record on them was not particularly remarkable: she was not much better than 50–50. However her opponents track record, during all fifteen of her wins, was horrible; they found 30 of those Daily Doubles and got only eight of them correct. And on so many of those occasions, they had bet everything that they had or bet so much that they lost the lead.

And this was always critical for Adriana. In all but one of Adriana’s fifteen wins, she went into Final Jeopardy in the lead. And she was nearly perfect in Final Jeopardy, getting fourteen of them correct. But considering how narrow those leads were at the end of the majority of her wins, Adriana had to be very aware of just how lucky she was after every one of those wins.

Indeed, it couldn’t have been clear in her fifteenth victory. Challenger Colleen Matthews found both Daily Doubles in Double Jeopardy that day. On each she wagered $2000, and she got both wrong. Yet she and Adriana were exchanging the lead throughout the entire round. Had Colleen managed to get even one of those Daily Doubles correct, she would have been ahead going into Final Jeopardy and since she, like Adriana, gave a correct response, Colleen could have ended her streak that day.

In that sense, the writing may very well have been on the wall when yesterday’s game began. One of her challengers Drew Basile spent the first half of the Jeopardy round matching her correct response for correct response. Adriana moved ahead on the Daily Double by the barest of margins and at the end of the Jeopardy round was leading with $8100 to Drew’s $5600. Tekla Sauter, her other challengers, had a respectable $3200.

Then in Double Jeopardy Drew began to pull ahead, not by much at first. But he had $13,200 when he got to the first Daily Double in HISTORIC SHIPS. Knowing who he was up against, he did what so many had and bet big: $10,000. But unlike almost every other game Adriana had competed in, this time it worked against her:

“The world’s largest aircraft carrier for ten years, it was built starting in October 1943 and named for a battle 16 months before.”

There was a long pause before Drew tentative responded: “What is Midway?” It was and Drew leapt to $23,200. On the next clue IT WAS ONCE THE CAPITAL for $2000, Adriana failed to identify that Turku was once the former capital of Finland and she never recovered. Tekla got to the other Daily Double and managed to get $3000 and Adriana didn’t get another correct response the rest of the round. She would finish in third with $9300, and by that point Drew had locked up the game with $23,600. Tekla had just $10,600.

Final Jeopardy made it clear that it is almost certain that even had things worked the other way, Adriana’s run would have ended that night. The Final Jeopardy category was BRANDS: “In 1978, a new cologne for men came out called this, what’s being played in the company’s iconic logo.” Adriana wrote down: “What is Axe?” which was wrong. Tekla was the only player who knew the correct response: “What is Polo?” (Drew didn’t take it seriously; he wrote down: What is Jeopardy?”) Drew only lost $118 and became a giant killer with a $23,482.

Drew mentioned in his interview that he had actually competed on Survivor and he made it clear that Survivor was hard on the body and Jeopardy harder on the mind. Perhaps that approach helped him when he had to deal with such a force as Adriana.

Adriana’s run ended with 15 wins, eleventh most in Jeopardy history and $349,600. It is clear, as I mentioned in last week’s article, that one can’t compare her to any of the four super-champions we’ve seen in the past two seasons. So let’s compare her to some of the ‘second tier’ of super-champions I mentioned in my first article on her. I will note first of all that while Adriana came one victory short of trying Ryan Long for tenth on this list, she won considerably more money than him. Ryan managed to win $299,400 in sixteen games.

That said, while she managed to pass five other Jeopardy greats in the past week, her totals are not quite as impressive. A simple list will suffice:

Austin Rogers (12 wins) — $411,000

Seth Wilson (12 wins) — $265,000

Matt Jackson (13 wins) — $$411,612

Ray LaLonde (13 wins) — $386,400)

Adriana Harmeyer (16 wins) — $349,600

In part this is because Matt and Austin were far more dominant in their performances than Adriana was: Matt had 12 runaway victories and topped the $50,000 mark four times while Austin had four wins of over $50,000, two of which were over $60,000. Adriana, as I mentioned, didn’t find nearly as many Daily Doubles in her games as any of these players, mainly because she wasn’t seeking them out, and she always bet significantly less on all of them.

In that sense Adriana compares favorably with Ray who only had 2 runaways in his eleven matches and like Adriana had much narrower leads going into Final Jeopardy then she did. Ray was also relatively calculating in wagering on Daily Doubles during his run. The difference between them was that Adriana had far less of a margin to work with in her five runaway victories and therefore had to wager cautiously in Final Jeopardy.

On the other hand, let’s compare her to four of the five people immediately ahead of her (I’ll omit Cris Panullo) after their fifteenth win

David Madden — $354,100

Jason Zuffranieri — $418,343

Julia Collins — $314,900

Mattea Roach — $352,781

Adriana Havemeyer — $349,600

She’s running basically dead even with David Madden and Mattea Roach and significantly ahead of Julia Collins. Indeed it took Collins 17 wins to win more money than Adriana did in fifteen.

Honestly I think at best Adriana might have been able to tie Madden and Zuffranieri on the number of games won (19) even if she had emerged victorious last night. Part of the reason that made Adriana’s matches so fun and exciting to watch were the exact reason she can’t be considered in the same breath as so many of the super-champions we’ve seen in the Post-Trebek era. Even players who won significantly fewer games then her — Ben Chan is the most recent example — were dominant in the Jeopardy and Double Jeopardy rounds in a way Adriana never truly was. Adriana never had the kinds of matches that James Holzhauer or Matt Amodio did, where they managed to get 40 correct responses in the course both rounds. Adriana would always play extremely well — she had games where she gave 26, 27 and 28 correct responses and one game she gave 25 correct answers and didn’t respond incorrectly once — but she would be the first to acknowledge how much luck she had and how she wished she was nearly as dominant in the Jeopardy and Double Jeopardy rounds as so many of the champions ahead of her on the Jeopardy leader board.

But don’t think for a moment that Adriana isn’t one of the all-tine greats. In many ways she is something of a throwback to some of the greatest Jeopardy players I’ve ever seen, and I don’t just mean in the era of the super-champion. Her methodical approach to starting at the top of the category and working her way down was the norm for many of the greatest players in Jeopardy history, from Frank Spangenberg and Jerome Vered and Brad Rutter took the same approach in almost all of his games until the Jeopardy All-Star Games. Jennings himself followed this approach not only in his original run but throughout his original Jeopardy career and so many players I mentioned in the list above over the years followed this same method to great success. It is only since James Holzhauer changed the game forever five years ago that everyone has been playing — and many champions have been thriving — with the ‘take no prisoners’ approach.

Adriana is both a shift back to an old school format and a legend in her own right. And after all of the controversies that have dogged nearly every aspect of Season 40 of Jeopardy, she has been not only a reminder of why we watch the show in the first place but why we love it. After everything that we’ve been through this year, Adriana Havemeyer is exactly the kind of champion Jeopardy needed right now and I think both the show and the fan are better for it. Whenever the next Tournament of Champions is, I look forward to seeing her return to the Alex Trebek stage. And I won’t be alone.



David B Morris

After years of laboring for love in my blog on TV, I have decided to expand my horizons by blogging about my great love to a new and hopefully wider field.