Date of first appearance:
$236,900 ($186,900 regular season games, $50,000 for 2nd place in the ToC)
"Cactus Gavvy" (see below)
From January to June 2004, I briefly held the record as the first 7 game winner. Since then, I hold the record as the one who's come closest to winning one-tenth as many games as Ken Jennings.
When Ken came along to obliterate my briefly-held record, the Washington Post asked me how it felt. I said, “I feel like 'Cactus Gavvy' Cravath. Do you know who that is? Right. Nobody does. He's the guy who had the home run record before Babe Ruth came along.” This quote then took on a life of its own, turning in up in Newsweek, ESPN Magazine, & who knows where else. By the way, I have to admit I had never heard of Cactus Gavvy before looking this up--he was too obscure for me! Which makes my point, I guess.
A few months ago, I met someone who said I looked familiar. It turns out he had seen me on Jeopardy! while in the military, stationed in Djibouti, East Africa. I knew Jeopardy! had a big audience, but I never imagined it being quite that far-flung.
Did Jeopardy! affect my life?
Not in any fundamental way. It did put me in touch with old friends, which was great, & it gave me fantastic memories. But my life is really the same--and that's good. (Had I won another 67 games, that might've changed a few things...)
Did I do anything crazy with my winnings?
I bought Liechtenstein. It's really cute--I'm so glad I picked it instead of San Marino! OK, that's not technically true. But my winnings are allowing me to support work that helps people in the developing world, such as education for refugees from Burma, and microcredit for people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. It's amazing that Jeopardy! could end up being a blessing to people on the far side of the world, but it is!
I know Chris Miller went to Halloween parties dressed as Ken Jennings. Well, I went as the Brannock Device--and if you know what that is without looking it up, you belong on Jeopardy!
2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions Nifty Nine (players with byes into Round 2) member: $25,000. After leading going into Final Jeopardy!, Tom lost to Michael Rooney in his Round 2 game when Tom wrote "Edward I" instead of "Edward the Confessor" in his response and Fred Ramen's wager neglected to cover Rooney.
2004 Tournament of Champions 1st runner-up: $50,000.
Season 20 7-time champion: $184,900 + $2,000.
Tom became the first 7-time champion on the game aired Tuesday, January 13, 2004, beating Sean Ryan's earlier record of 6 games. Later in Season 20 Ken Jennings would beat Tom's records for number of games played and amount of cash accumulated many times over. (Ken's accumulated total after his 7th win on Thursday, June 10, 2004 was $231,000.)
Blog (formerly) at criticalcondition.org.
Jeopardy! Message Board user name: T-Bone