The Fascinating History of Montana’s Best Jeopardy! Contestants
Everybody should know what Jeopardy! is. If you don't, the quick run-down is that it's one of America's longest-running game shows that takes a twist on the normal question and answer format by giving the contestants the answers and having the contestants provide the questions. Montana has had quite the representation on the show, with 32 contestants in the show's history up to this point. But, how many have won cash? Let's take a look.
Liz Barnea, Billings - Total Winnings: $28,900
So far, the only multiple-time Jeopardy! champion from the Treasure State, Barnea won four games that aired in April of 1990, winning nearly $29,000.
Keith Suta, Bozeman - Total Winnings: $16,000
This writer from Bozeman appeared on Jeopardy! in May 2006, winning $15,000 as well as a $1,000 prize for third place in his second game.
Patty Crowell, Kalispell - Total Winnings: $4,399
Crowell won her sole game because of an incredibly difficult Final Jeopardy! clue that left all three unable to get the correct question. Lucky for her, she had the most money at the end, and was able to call herself a Jeopardy! champion.
Vic Sawyer, Yellowstone National Park - Total Winnings: $29,001
In 2007, Sawyer, or as the show called him, the Yellowstone Savage, took to the Jeopardy! stage, and won a cool $28,001 and a $1,000 third-place prize.
Russell Walks, Billings - Total Winnings: $11,001
Walks walked tall in the Spring of 2000, winning over $11,000 on his appearance. An illustrator, and public speaker now, Walks' son Matt appeared on the show 20 years later in 2021 and took home a $2,000 second-place prize. Like father, like son.
Jim Britton, Butte - Total Winnings: $12,900
Jeopardy! was not the only game show Britton appeared on. After winning nearly $13,000 on the show in 2001, Britton made an appearance on an episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? but never played. Britton died in July 2020 at the age of 57.
Norton Moses, Billings - Total Winnings: $11,700
All the way back in Season 6 of the show, Moses took down an impressive (for the time) 1-day total of $11,700. Moses taught history at Montana State University-Billings until 2005.
Jim Friguglietti, Billings - Total Winnings: $10,000
Also a former MSU-B professor, Friguglietti won the 1989 Jeopardy! Senior Tournament and the $10,000 prize. Friguglietti taught for 36 years and retired in 2000 before passing away in 2018.
Stuart Crane, Kalispell - Total Winnings: $22,800
Just last year, Crane took down the third-largest sum of money in Montana's Jeopardy! history when he won $21,800 as well as the $1,000 third-place prize the next day. Crane is also the only person from Montana to become Jeopardy! champion after the death of Alex Trebek, the show's long-running host, in 2020.
Montana's representation on Jeopardy! is not over, and now people who want to be on the show can take their online test anytime they'd like. Let's see who can beat the Montana records for the game.