On Friday, current “Jeopardy!” champion Ryan Long added $20,000 dollars to his score for a 16-day total of $229,400 dollars and he is showing no signs of slowing down!
The fan-favorite champ has made it to the “Jeopardy!” Hall of Fame, which has recently been renamed the Leaderboard of Legends. After his 15th win, “Jeopardy!” producers sat down with Ryan to talk about his success on the “Jeopardy!” stage.
Ryan Long Loves Being Called A ‘Legend’
In a recent interview, the rideshare driver from Philadelphia admitted that he still can’t quite believe that he’s made it to the Leaderboard of Legends. When asked what it feels like to hold his new title, Ryan said, “Every time I hear it, it sounds like I’m waiting for the punchline.”
“A legend? A legend is a nice title,” he added.
Although many players enter the game with their own particular strategy, Ryan said he just likes to do “what feels right” to him at the moment.
“I’d be lying if I said I had any kind of plan,” Ryan confessed. “The situation that I find myself in each game, [I] just play it however it calls for it.”
As the Leaderboard of Legends revealed, only eight players in the history of the show have won more games than Ryan has, so his strategy is definitely paying off for him.
“I’m not like a sentimental guy, but it feels like an honor,” Ryan continued. “All those great champs, it’s crazy for me to think that my name is going to be among that [type of] company. But it’s really cool.”
Like many champs before him, Ryan says that most of his success is retaining fun facts that other people might read and then mentally discard. To all of the people who thought his love of trivia and fun facts was useless, Ryan had only two words for them: “Told ya.”
Ryan Long’s ‘Jeopardy!’ Success Did Not Come Without Its Challenges
The 39-year-old recently sat down with Inquirer to talk about his success and his rags-to-riches inspirational story. As it turns out, Ryan had to borrow money to even appear on the “Jeopardy!” stage.
Ryan confessed that he was hospitalized for several weeks with COVID-19 in January 2021. After he was released, he tried to return to work as a paratransit driver for SEPTA’s Customized Community Transportation program. However, he realized he wasn’t physically able to do the job anymore.
To support him and his 8-year-old son, Nathan, Ryan began working at various rideshare companies to make ends meet. When he got the call to appear on the show in February, Ryan knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“If this opportunity hadn’t come up, I don’t know what I was going to do long-term,” Long confessed.
Even though he had to get help to afford his plane ticket out to California, things didn’t get any easier when he was there. Fans noticed that Ryan was often squinting during his first few episodes of the show and Ryan quickly explained why: he had forgotten his glasses back home in Philadelphia.
“There was a video clue category on Swedish history, and there was a photo of a king with his sword. … I could not see what that clue was. I just took my best guess, and of course, it was wildly wrong,” Long explained. “When you watch it on TV, the clue is blown up big and everything, but when you get there the video clue screen is way across the stage, and it’s not that big. So if you don’t have good vision, then good luck to you, pal. You’re going to be struggling.”
However, Ryan was able to retrieve his glasses and he is currently climbing his way up the “Jeopardy!” leaderboard. No one knows exactly how long his winning streak will last for, but it’s clear that his “Jeopardy!” success has given both Ryan and his son an opportunity they never dreamed of.