Jeopardy! champ Ryan Long loses, ending Philly Uber driver’s streak | #entertainment | #news

Academics and account managers. Ivy League graduates. Teachers. Mild-mannered Philadelphia rideshare driver Ryan Long beat them all during his 16-game winning streak on Jeopardy! with a combination of luck, strategic betting, and mastery of certain categories.

But Long’s journey on the popular game show ended Monday night, when he finished in third place behind National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Ahasic and actress Stephanie Garrison.

Long, 39, closed the gap with Ahasic entering Final Jeopardy, trailing by $3,400 and facing the following Greek Mythology clue:

Of the Argonauts seeking the Golden Fleece, these two from the same family were from Sparta according to Homer.

Long answered “Who are Agamemnon and Menelaus?”, which was incorrect, leaving him with just $1. Ahasic answered correctly with “Who are Castor and Pollux,” winning the game and unseating Long with a final score of $18,401.

Long ends his Jeopardy! run with the ninth-most consecutive wins in the show’s history, dating back to 2003 when a five-game cap was lifted. Overall, he’ll take home $300,400 before taxes — $299,400 in winnings, and $1,000 for finishing third Monday.

Long has called the winnings “life changing,” but he’s not looking to make any splashy purchases. Instead, after meeting with financial advisers, he plans to pay off some existing debt.

“For me, paying off the bills and paying off the car is exciting,” Long said.

Long’s success on Jeopardy! came at an opportune time. He was forced to leave his job as a paratransit driver for SEPTA’s Customized Community Transportation program last year after a difficult bout with COVID-19, which still impacts him. He pivoted to driving for Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash to support his 8-year-old son, Nathan, who made the necklace Long wore on the show.

Not much has changed for Long, aside from being recognized as a local Jeopardy! star around town (though Twitter declined a request to verify his account). The show doesn’t pay contestants until after their runs air on television, so Long hasn’t received the money he knew he won months ago.

“I’ve got my head on a swivel right now, but I don’t have anything,” Long joked.

Despite the loss, Long’s Jeopardy! career isn’t over. He’ll return in the fall for the show’s Tournament of Champions, where he’ll face off against Amy Schneider, Mattea Roach, and the rest of this year’s most successful contestants. Long said he’s looking forward to meeting everyone, but admitted not following their Jeopardy! runs too closely.

“I actually don’t watch the show religiously,” Long said. “I grew up watching the show, and I’ll catch it here and there, but mostly I’m working.”

Sitcom star Mayim Bialik hosted all of Long’s 17 games. He said he was irritated by the criticism she’s received online as one of the show’s guest hosts.

“It seems like a lot of people get on Mayim online and I find it really, really unfair,” Long said. “I’m not picking a horse or anything, but some of the criticism online has been really over the top. She was super, super nice during my time on the show.”

Bialik is splitting hosting duties with former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings — who holds the show’s title of “Greatest of All Time” — for the rest of season 38, which ends in July. After that, the show will decide on a permanent host to replace the late Alex Trebek, who died in November 2020 of pancreatic cancer.

As far as advice, Long has a simple suggestion for those interested in competing on Jeopardy! — just apply.

“People should just try out. They make it easier than ever to take the online test. If you think you’ve got it, don’t get down on yourself and think that you don’t have a shot,” Long said. “If I got on TV and did something, then a lot of other people could, too.”


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