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Thursday 18 July, 2024
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Who is Cris Pannullo? Jeopardy! champ

BY Sharmeen Hussain Aug 31, 2023. 12:42 am UPDATED: Aug 31, 2023. 12:42 am

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CRIS Pannullo, the most recent Jeopardy! champion, admitted that his demeanor wasn’t his strongest feature when competing.

During his 21-day, $748K run last October, the former poker player appeared so concentrated that even the crew noticed.

Summer repeats of Jeopardy! are now airing until the new season opens on September 11, including the 2022 Tournament of Champions.

Amy Schneider, 42, won the $250,000 special in a tense weeklong final against Andrew He and joke-cracking professor Sam Buttrey, which is now airing.

Cris, 38, will compete in the next one with the longest streak of Season 39, putting him far ahead of the competition.

The operations success manager and former professional card player from Ocean City, New Jersey, conceded, though, that he was no Sam when it came to keeping things light on stage.

On August 28, Cris appeared on the official podcast Inside Jeopardy! with longtime producer Sarah Whitcomb Foss to discuss his reign for the first time since it ended last autumn.

He stated that after winning his first game, he FaceTimed his 12-year girlfriend Heather, and it was the “happiest she’s ever seen me.”

“It’s funny you said that because you didn’t show a lot of emotion during your run,” producer Foss commented.

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“I think after my second game, a contestant coordinator said to me, ‘You know we read on your application that you’re really funny,” Cris responded.

“‘It’s okay if you wanna show that.'”

“And I was thinking, ‘Oh man, I must really be coming across as standoffish on camera if she has to say that to me.”

“So I tried to loosen up a little bit.

“It’s tough if you’re trying to compete and be in that moment, and just focusing on the board and you’re inside your head.

“There’s so many things to think about that cracking jokes and being convivial is like fifth or sixth on the list.”

“I wouldn’t change anything if I could, except for winning a few more games.”

Ken said: “You strike me as a think-y poker type, so I want to humanize you here. Tell us about your cute pet.”

“Well, about ten years ago, my girlfriend Heather spotted a rabbit hopping in our front yard,” Cris began.

Ever since he revealed: “We have lived at the mercy of a bunny named Lentils.”

“Lentils is cute,” Ken added: “Does Lentils eat lentils?”

Cris chided: “No, you cannot feed a rabbit lentils.”

The crowd nervously laughed as Ken jumped back and raised his hands, turning to the camera.

“Oh, please, do not feed rabbits lentils, Cris is warning you off!”

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“Hay,” Cris then went as far as correcting what rabbits eat. “A lot of timothy hay.”

It wouldn’t be the last time Cris was rude to Ken.

The opening clue of another game saw him land right on a Daily Double – the randomly selected clues where Cris, like another poker player, would frequently wager enormous to increase his lead.

Cris, however, could only stake the authorized minimum of $1000 with $0 because the game had just begun.

Ken comforted: “On the plus side, you found it quickly-”

Cris immediately cut off the host to say: “$1000.”

One of Cris’ competitors also exclusively told The U.S. Sun that during Cris’ run, making winning friendships was not his top priority.

“He was very nice, very polite, but he did sit separately from everyone else. He was quiet, and it was hard to get a read on him.”

After his run, Celebrity Jeopardy! winner Ike Barenholtz called Cris frightening in a post-game interview, and five-day champ Ben Goldstein jokingly taunted in his post-game chat: “Cris Pannullo, I’m coming for you baby!”

Having said that, Cris became a fan favorite this fall because to how brilliantly he performed, eventually amassing the fifth-longest victory streak in history before suddenly losing.

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Seventeen of Cris’s 21 wins were runaways, which meant that by the end of Final Jeopardy, no one could catch him, making executives fearful that he would never stop winning.

He also went 48 for 49 on Daily Doubles before his last game, winning by such a large margin that staff referred to losing to him as being “Pannullo’d.”

Cris is a bit of an enigma, with no social media and zero interviews after winning the most games in the last year, which adds to his mystique.

Ken shouted, “Woah!” when Cris’ winnings totaled a staggering $71,821.

Cris surpassed Amy Schneider’s biggest single-day total of $71,400.

Cris is such a force in the game that he was named an alternate for Jeopardy! Masters despite having yet to compete in an event.

Ken Jennings (74 games), Amy Schneider (40 games), Matt Amodio (38 games), James Holzhauer (32 games), and Mattea Roach (23 games) have all won more games than Cris in Jeopardy! history.

He has won more money than Mattea, placing him fifth in the earnings standings.

Cris will return for the 2023 Tournament of Champions, which has been postponed until the end of the Hollywood strike, as Sony revealed last month.

The decision was made following, or perhaps as a result of, the annual tournament’s frontrunners, including Cris, banding together and deciding not to cross the picket line.

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The competition will be postponed for the foreseeable future, which could be 2024.

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