I hold the title of the largest all-time money winner as a contestant on Jeopardy! and have never lost a game…to a human, that is. You can watch me compete in the Battle of the Decades Tournament semi-finals all next week. Go ahead, ask me anything.

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BradRutter

Edit @ 11:25 EDT: All right y'all, that was a fun 3 1/2 hours. I'll probably check in throughout the week so feel free to submit something else. If I didn't get to one you really want an answer to, hit me up on Twitter and I'll try to get back to you. Thanks everybody!

Comments: 325 • Responses: 53  • Date: 

emileautouri115 karma

So, you've won the last three mega-tournaments, and are by any reasonable metric the greatest Jeopardy! Player ever. And yet, Ken Jennings (the guy you've beat twice so far) remains the best-known Jeopardy champion by far. Does that bother you at all?

CockySmugDBag207 karma

I hit my knees every night and pray for the Lord to smite him.

Honestly it bothers my friends a lot more than it bothers me, mostly because they don't know him. Not to get all sappy, but he actually is a great guy and a wonderful ambassador for the show.

NorwegianWood2863 karma

Do you always have the question's answer in your mind before you press the buzzer? Do you ever press the buzzer without knowing the answer to the question and having to come up with it in that short amount of time?

CockySmugDBag73 karma

Almost always. There were a few times in the BotD that I thought I could come up with it after I rang in, and they didn't go so well.

PhilKesselFan40 karma

Brad, I am a huge fan of yours. Thank you for taking the time to do this AMA.

1) People always mention yourself and Ken when discussing the greatest players of all time. Besides you two, who do you consider to be among the best players in the history of the show?

2) Do you think Jeopardy is similar to sports in the "good to be lucky sense"? After winning 4 tournaments and beating Ken twice, it's pretty hard to argue against you being the best, but when you look at the semis of the Million Dollar Masters, the 3rd round of the Ultimate Tournament, and Ken missing the Secretary of State final, it seems like you have a horse shoe on you at all times.

CockySmugDBag71 karma

These are both great questions, FWIW.

1) This is like when someone wins at the Oscars and they have a list of people to thank -- I'm terrified of leaving someone out. I will say that Frank Spangenberg and Jerome Vered were the guys I thought were really impressive when I was a teenager. Otherwise, you can't go wrong with any of the Battle of the Decades players. I think Roger Craig deserves a special mention, because he hung super tough with Ken and me in the finals and also because he gave me 20 bucks to drop his name.

2) I think it's good to be lucky in everything, sports, Jeopardy!, whatever. I do carry a horseshoe with me at all times -- it's stashed somewhere very uncomfortable....

RoswellSpaceman12 karma

No love for Julia Collins?

systor16 karma

If Arthur gets a movie, then Julia and her sweater collection get a movie.

CockySmugDBag33 karma

Both Julia and Arthur are really good, but there's a huge difference between regular Jeopardy! and Tournament of Champions-level play. Ask me about them again after they play their ToC, which I'll be glued to.

terattt39 karma

Super jacked guys often get scrawny little punks coming up to them in bars trying to start fights with them. Do you find that people ever pull the same shit with you in a battle of intellects way?

CockySmugDBag85 karma

I mostly get the "if you're so smart, tell me what my great-aunt's middle name is, hahahaha." Never fails to bring a smile to my face, and I usually end up buying that guy dinner, which then leads to lifelong friendship.

m0rris0n_hotel37 karma

Hi Brad. I'm one of the mods of /r/Jeopardy. We'd love to have you stop by and participate whenever you're on Reddit. I'm sure you could provide some interesting insights on game play and overall strategy. I have a few questions for you.

  • Does coming back on the show for multiple appearances over the years make the game easier or do you find it to be the same level of challenge from your original time on the show?

  • We all know Alex Trebek will be retiring in the next few years and you have been mentioned as a possible replacement. If you were offered the job would you take it? If not, who would you like to see get the job?

  • If you arm-wrestled Ken Jennings who would win?

I also wanted to throw out an invitation to anyone reading/posting here that isn't posting regularly at /r/Jeopardy. We'd love have to as many people participating on the sub as possible. So if you aren't already please considering subscribing.

CockySmugDBag51 karma

  • It's become easier for me over the years just because I've sort of got used to it. No one who hasn't been on the show realizes what a bizarre experience it is. The more comfortable you can be in that milieu, the better you'll do.

  • I'd be crazy to turn it down. That's the best gig in show business, which is why they wouldn't have any trouble finding someone way more famous than me to do it. The person I've heard mentioned who would do a fantastic job is NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan, who hosted VH1's World Series of Pop Culture and absolutely killed the hardest question-reading job I've ever seen on Grand Slam. He's also Canadian, which would seem to be a prerequisite.

  • I have 2 inches and 30 pounds on Ken but he's a well-known steroid user so put your money on him.

fluffer_rutter35 karma

Hi Brad, I’m a big fan!

I’ve got sort of a personal question for you- we share the surname “Rutter” and I recently traced my lineage back to Leacock Township in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I know you’re from the same area… Do you happen to know anything about your genealogy? If I’m distantly related to you I would be sooooo excited!

As a follow up, how far removed would a relative need to be for you to bone them?

CockySmugDBag26 karma

I don't know too much about my genealogy but if you're a Lancaster Rutter we're almost certainly related.

The followup would depend on a number of factors -- age, appearance, adventurousness, etc.

Armitando26 karma

If you could revive any game show from the past that has been canceled, which would you choose?

CockySmugDBag84 karma

I loved Press your Luck when I was a kid, but it didn't work nearly as well when they brought it back. I'd love to go on a new version of Supermarket Sweep and shove other people out of the way while loading up my cart with laundry detergent, diapers, and Folgers coffee. Good times.

mcyjjj25 karma

Hi Brad! I'm a really big fan.

I remember when Julia Collins lost on a John Irving question he ended up sending her a book. Did anybody interesting ever contact you after your appearances?

PS I once got in an argument with a friend about who was the best Jeopardy contestant of all time. I was Team Brad. It almost ended our friendship.

CockySmugDBag54 karma

It's never too late to end that friendship. Thank you for your support.

Nothing exciting. I've just been pitched on all manner of lame startup ideas.

ateamer25 karma

What's your advice to a person like me that is trying to compete on "Jeopardy!"? I've taken the test twice so far but haven't had too much luck (42?/50). Any tips/ways to prepare to compete in general?

CockySmugDBag38 karma

Really, the best way to prepare is to watch the show every night. Write the categories down and keep track of what you know and don't so you'll know what you have to get better on. Once you get called for an audition, remember that it's an audition for a TV show. They're looking for high-energy people who can take direction. Be as close as you can be to that type of person.

Alankoolik19 karma

Hi Brad! I loved watching you on the Battle of the Decades this year! I and a couple other jeoparteens were wondering what you thought of this year's teen tournament. Any advice about life after Jeopardy? Thanks so much!

CockySmugDBag19 karma

Hey Alan! That was as exciting a Teen Tournament as I've ever seen. Tough break for you in the finals. I guess my best advice is never to get tired of talking about the experience. Jeopardy! is such an institution with so many hardcore fans that it will open doors for you that may not have opened otherwise. Give my congrats to the other #Jeoparteens.


Are you dating anybody, or are you single and searching?

CockySmugDBag34 karma

I'm always searching for people with witty Reddit handles.

frankiefasthandz18 karma

What's the greatest interaction you've had with a fan?

CockySmugDBag43 karma

My favorite fan story is the one Pam Mueller told the other night. In case you missed it...

We were walking down 43rd Street in Manhattan when a guy on the other side of the street starts yelling, "Jeopardy! Jeopardy!". I start waving to him in a very Johnny Hollywood, "thanks for watching" type way and am feeling very pleased with myself. The next thing out of his mouth is...

"You're the girl from Jeopardy!"

oh_horsefeathers18 karma

Generally speaking, what category/subject are contestants least prepared for?

CockySmugDBag17 karma

Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. I can't say there's any particular category I've noticed contestants doing poorly on.

michaelquotes15 karma

Hi Brad, I recently was on the show which will air later this fall. What I found most interesting was how fast the show moves compared to watching it at home. There seems to be more time to process everything on the couch. What did you find most surprising about the show on your first appearance?

CockySmugDBag23 karma

I absolutely found the same thing. It's almost like they spring everything on you before you're ready. I've been on something like 25 shows and I've gradually felt more ready, but it still moves really fast.

The other thing I noticed the first time was just how different the studio is from what I'd imagined it to be. I thought there was a big audience, but there's maybe 200 people, and the set looks huge on TV but you're actually only 10 feet from Alex.

Urkelsderp15 karma

First off, you are an amazing player. Second, the TotD was by far the best thing Jeopardy has ever done.

My question is were you guys just having fun and sort of messing about in the final? I'm not saying you weren't serious and being competitive, but it was the most relaxed 2 games I've ever seen?

CockySmugDBag17 karma

If you let the pressure get to you, you'll lose. I was talking to Harry Friedman (J!'s executive producer) afterwards and he told me how tense the atmosphere in the studio was during the final. I said that funnily, it seemed like the three least nervous people in the place were the three guys playing. Harry wisely said, "I think that's why you were the three guys playing."

Cyrano_De_BIRDATTACK13 karma

Hello Brad! Thanks for doing this AMA. How did you mentally prepare for your Jeopardy appearances? Also, do you have any tricks you use to up your proverbial game?

That's a dynamite Reddit handle, by the way.

CockySmugDBag35 karma

I smoke meth in the green room bathroom out of a tin foil pipe right before I go on.

For real, I just try to relax and have fun when I'm up there. It's so easy to psych yourself out and that's what I try to avoid.

MagicRat92312 karma

As your username is CockySmugDBag, I expect no humility here. If you weren't capped at 5 wins, how far do you think you would have gone?

CockySmugDBag18 karma

I get this one a lot, and I really have no idea. I feel pretty confident in saying more than 5, but I couldn't really be any more specific. I read somewhere that even if you gave Ken a 99% chance of winning any individual game (not far off, IMO) his odds were less than 50% to win 74 straight. Jeopardy also sent me DVDs of my original appearances as part of the Decades tournament, and the first thing I noticed when I watched was how much better I am now than I was back then.

KCB2411 karma

Who, in your estimation, has bigger balls: Roger Craig or Chip Kelly?

CockySmugDBag15 karma

I was expecting more from Chip after watching him at Oregon, although the unceremonious release of Desean Jackson took some stones. Gotta give this one to the Rog though.

mechanicaltwerk1311 karma

You just keep getting sexier. How do you do it? ;-)

CockySmugDBag29 karma

Reported for spam

smacksmacksugarsmack10 karma

Hi Brad,

Thanks for doing this AMA. I just watched you advance to the Quarters in the Battle of the Decades Tournament. Couple questions for you:

1) What was the biggest difference in playing against Watson in comparison to playing against humans?

2) My friends and I try to guess the Final Jeopardy answer before we see the question. Have you ever tried? Would there be a particular strategy to that?

mcyjjj5 karma

I do 2 too! I've even gotten it right a couple times.

CockySmugDBag12 karma

1) Watson's buzzer advantage was insurmountable. Ken and I are known as the fastest guns in the West and we were basically fighting for its scraps.

2) Absolutely. I was even doing it in the audience during the Decades tournament. Like mcyjjj, I"ve gotten it right a couple times.

sakuraba3910 karma

How important is the undefeated streak to you? You have a rare opportunity in a competitive venue to go out on top with an unblemished record. If you "retired" right now, then your four tournament wins, three of which were against all time greats, is pretty hard to argue against for you being the greatest Jeopardy player of all time, regardless of what happens in the future.

Assuming you came back for more tournaments and kept winning them, would you eventually reach a point where you wouldn't want to come back because it would jeopardize the streak (assuming you're not at that point already)?

CockySmugDBag18 karma

I'd put it in the "kinda cool, but not that important" category. It's so much fun to play, not to mention the fact that I get paid whenever I go back and let's face it, I don't have anything else really generating much income.

KCB2410 karma

Favorite tweet/message from your haters?

CockySmugDBag26 karma

One girl said something like, "This guy Brad seems like a real asshole. I guess that's why I'm so attracted to him."

gregclinton9 karma

I feel that Watson had an unfair advantage -- that you and Ken had to divvy up the nuanced questions between yourselves while Watson picked the low-hanging fruit. One Brad against two Watsons would have won handily. What do you think?

CockySmugDBag28 karma

Not much to disagree with here, other than "unfair" -- we were informed in advance about everything Watson could do, and were well compensated for taking part.

CockySmugDBag8 karma

I'm here. 8:00 on the dot. Now, to your questions....

Brainiac01711 karma

Brad, I feel cheated. If you were really a Cocky Smug D-Bag you could've at least shown up 15 minutes late...


Or just cancelled and not tell anyone.

Brainiac01715 karma

Well the Rutter I know would show up late, take some free food and maybe a drink, talk Philly sports for about a half hour, and then leave.

CockySmugDBag29 karma

I'm 99% sure this is someone who actually knows me IRL.

plumstheword8 karma

BRAD! When can we watch Pub Quiz??

CockySmugDBag8 karma

Hopefully soon. Watch the trailer @ pubquizcomedy.com

mybrainrot8 karma

Has having the name Brad ever been a hurdle in your life?

CockySmugDBag26 karma

No, because I am a classy and erudite Bradford. Can't speak for those toothless, trailer-park dwelling Bradleys.

ScottyUrb7 karma

Ever meet any of the others we see/hear on Jeopardy, besides Alex and other contestants? For example, Johnny Gilbert or the Clue Crew?

CockySmugDBag10 karma

All of the above, and they're all great. Johnny in particular is the epitome of old-school Hollywood cool.

PetertheRutter7 karma

How confident are you on bible trivia? I never thought you would have missed the FJ about Seth

CockySmugDBag5 karma

Not my best or worst category. If I'd actually needed to come up with Seth I might have.

jakemhs7 karma

Hi Brad! Would you say that "farming" qualifies as your least favorite category of all time?

CockySmugDBag16 karma

Dan Pawson, is that you?

blutharsch7 karma

Hi Brad. I made some fan art a few months ago. Do you like it? What are you eating right now?

CockySmugDBag10 karma

Bitchin'. 5 lb bag of Good n' Plenty.

GoldFisherman7 karma

What advice do you have for a lowly math teacher looking to one day become an academic decathlon coach?

CockySmugDBag11 karma

It's a thankless job, so you shouldn't have much competition.

barthez167 karma

Hi Brad, I loved your story about your shot glass collection in college. I am currently a college student with a shot glass collection and get crazy looks from people who automatically assume the worst about my actions when I tell them I have one.

Are you still collecting shot glasses? And which is your favorite in your collection if you have one?

CockySmugDBag11 karma

Nah, not anymore. In my case those assuming the worst were correct.

mandiblesx6 karma

Hey Brad. I just want you to know that, as a fellow trivia enthusiast, your wit, charm, and taste in suits makes you my favorite Jeopardy! champion. As for a question, what do you do in your free time? What sort of hobbies, sports, etc. do you enjoy?

CockySmugDBag15 karma

Thanks. If you follow me on Twitter you know that I'm a huge Philly sports fan and I spend a lot of time complaining, mostly about the Eagles and Flyers. I also enjoy hiking around the hills of L.A., film, improv, pina coladas, getting caught in the rain....

Imaletyoufinish_but5 karma

Back in 2003, you proctored an Academic Bowl meet where I was a contestant. I remember you. You were looking for titles for a potential game show. We suggested Stump the Chump (as you were a bit of a smug asshole). You were not impressed (and that is putting your reaction kindly).
I know you are kind of embracing the whole "being a jerk" thing now (at least as far as I can tell from your username). I think this is the main reason that most won't regard you as the ultimate Jeopardy champion. Ken Jennings actually seems like a nice guy. Ever thought about changing your attitude to improve relations with fans/your image?

CockySmugDBag18 karma

<3 u too xoxox

marcm62465 karma

Why are you so handsome Mr. Rutter?

dwmdm9 karma

Seriously, dude is 10x handsomer now than when he was first on the show.

CockySmugDBag16 karma

Check's in the mail for both of you. Pleasure doing business with you.

dwmdm5 karma

Did you watch every game you have been on when they aired on TV?

What do you think has been your weakest topic and, going into this tournament, what topic were you least confident about/needed to study most? (Or do you even bother studying at this point? You make it looks so easy.)

CockySmugDBag15 karma

Well, I didn't watch the rerun tonight, but yes, I've watched every game I've been on. I am an arrogant egomaniac, after all. I brushed up the most on opera, which I'm terrible at, and art, which I tend to think I'm good at but am NOT.

terattt5 karma

Time to put your street smarts to the test, college boy. Which is correct? A or B?

3 seconds.

CockySmugDBag24 karma

Anyone who answers A should be imprisoned.

page_mathews5 karma

Brad, what's the best advice anyone's ever given you? :)

CockySmugDBag16 karma

My dad once told me that you can look a lot smarter than you really are if you just pay attention. And Jimmy Dugan told me to avoid the clap.

Johnny_Oldschool5 karma

Internet trivia for 100: In 2007, this openly gay youtuber became famous over night for his viral video demanding that people everywhere "leave Brittany alone".

Your answer?

CockySmugDBag8 karma

We haven't forgotten Chris Crocker already? What's this world coming to?

JasperUngulate4 karma

Hey Brad!

Using that you had a shot glass collection, I'm going to guess you have a drink on the go currently. What is it?

CockySmugDBag18 karma

I actually quit drinking years ago. Nothing but black tar heroin and the aforementioned meth blasts these days.

Avenged_Thrice4 karma

Are you a cyborg?

CockySmugDBag8 karma


flound11294 karma

Have you ever eaten rad butter?

CockySmugDBag3 karma

Every morning.

fissionvsfusion4 karma

Brad, I am a 31 year old nearly-lifelong Jeopardy! fan whose couch-Jeopardy! prowess is only rivaled by that of her own mother. Thank you for doing this. You are my favourite.

My question for you is: when you pack your bags and head off to film a tournament, do you form unique bonds with the people you compete against? I know you seem to have formed friendships with some of your regular competitors, but what about the others? Is it as if, for that brief period of time, you're finally with your people, and it feels like home? Or is it more of a "nice to see you guys, have a good one" / all in a day's work type of feeling?

CockySmugDBag5 karma

It's kind of a combination of the two, mostly because everyone is scattered around the country so Jeopardy! is really the only time we see each other. A lot of my good friends in L.A. are people I met through Jeopardy!, though.

lastcomment3144 karma

Hi! Two questions. 1- I'm on my high school's quiz bowl team. Do you have any advice for studying for such competitions (particularly quiz bowl and Jeopardy! It's my dream to get on the show) and for improving buzzer speed? 2- What was it like playing against a computer? I've always wondered what that would be like (though one of my teammates comes close), and if the questions were programmed so that Watson would receive the question at the same rate you and Ken Jennings did.

ASMarling5 karma

I'm not Brad, but...

RE: buzzer speed. I think timing and knowing when that window for answering in Jeopardy is the key, not "speed" per se. The episode from earlier this week with the blind guy seems really helpful for this, since it had a sound that would play whenever that window was open.

CockySmugDBag8 karma

ASMarling is right that J! is more about timing than speed. I played HS quiz bowl 20 years ago [Jesus! -- ed.] and can't say I ever studied or worked on my speed. Both the knowledge and the speed just seemed to come naturally, but as with anything, the more questions you hear, the better you'll do with both. I understand it's taken a bit more seriously than it was in my day, though.

Watson basically got a text message of the clue at the same time it was displayed on the board.

Lucky_strike173 karma

Hi Brad, I enjoyed watching you knock it out of the park on today's show. What's it like to be such a badass? What have you done with your winnings? Looking forward to seeing you compete next month!

CockySmugDBag8 karma


katherinedevir2 karma

Salute Brad, I think what you did on Jeopardy! is amazing, hard hitting question, what's your best feature and what would you change about yourself? Kiss from France!!

CockySmugDBag3 karma

Are you interviewing me for a job? Merci beaucoup.

PetertheRutter2 karma

Brad, I am (one of your) biggest fan(s).

But can you explain the low wager in this game?


CockySmugDBag3 karma

I am psychic and knew exactly what Steve and Michael's responses and wagers would be.

outadoc1 karma

I'm from France, and we're not familiar with Jeopardy here. How could you explain it simply?

Also, how do you feel about Watson? (obligatory techie question, sorry!)

jakemhs2 karma

Jeopardy is a quiz game with 2 rounds of 30 clues each. The gimmick is that questions and answers are snytactically reversed, so every response from the contestants begins with what, who, or something similar. You can find examples on youtube to get an idea of the gameplay.

CockySmugDBag7 karma

a) see above

b) fuck that thing

etmuffin1 karma

I just watched your quarter-final match for the first time and you clearly answered "streptoLOcoccus" but changed it to streptococcus when Alex asked you to repeat it. We had our closed caption on and it also caught the mispronunciation. This was a clear mistake and it would have changed the outcome of the game since you missed Final Jeopardy. Care to comment?

CockySmugDBag5 karma

You're allowed to change your answer as long as Alex hasn't ruled you incorrect. I definitely caught a break there as apparently I turned into Homer Simpson for a second.

Topchef-junkie1 karma

Hi Brad,

What's your favorite snack in the Jeopardy! green room?

CockySmugDBag4 karma

I don't eat much; I just get tweaked on coffee and Diet Coke.

reticulated_python1 karma

Hi Mr. Rutter! (Can I call you Brad?) I've never been this early to an AMA before. I am watching you on the rerun of the Battle of the Decades right now!

So when Ken Jennings did his AMA, I asked him if he listened to the Wu-tang Clan, and he replied 'WU TANG FOREVER'. My question is, do you listen to the Wu-Tang Clan, and in general what kind of music do you like?

Thank you!

EDIT: I have another question by the way. You strike me as very confident and outgoing. Were you that way growing up too? If not, when and how did you develop those skills?

systor1 karma

We need to know what music puts Rutter in the zone.

CockySmugDBag3 karma

Not only do I listen to Wu-Tang, they handle my portfolio.

I like just about everything except the kind of country you hear on the radio.

I was your typical shy, nerdy little kid, but by the time I was 12 or 13 I was bigger than most people and started playing sports, so the confidence sort of came naturally from there.