Why ‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Cris Pannullo’s Shock Defeat Is Good News for Show Bosses


Cris Pannullo‘s impressive 21-game winning streak on Jeopardy! has come to an end as he was beaten on Tuesday (December 6) night by professor Andy Tirrell in a nail-biting Final Jeopardy round. But for the show’s bosses it could be good news as the super-champ was busting their budget with his big winnings!

The former professional poker player had amassed a massive $748K over the course of his 21 wins, giving him the 5th highest winnings in the game show’s history and its 6th longest streak. His victories were so decisive that the producers had started using the phrase “Pannullo’d” to describe contestants defeated by the South Jersey resident.

However, during Tuesday’s game, Pannullo met his match in Tirrell, a political science and international relations professor from San Diego, California. The two traded wins throughout the episode, with Pannullo having a slight lead of $12,600 compared to Tirrell’s $11,900 as they entered Final Jeopardy.

The final clue read: “A 1609 story in which an exiled king of Bulgaria creates a sea palace with his magic may have inspired the plot of this play.”

Pannullo answered incorrectly with “What is The Little Mermaid?,” decreasing his total to just $1,399. Meanwhile, Tirrell got it correct, answering with “What is The Tempest?,” giving him the win with $15,399 and unseating the fan-favorite super-champ.

While fans were disappointed to see Pannullo’s run come to an end, the show’s producers were probably breathing a sigh of relief. Pannullo had been breaking all sorts of records, including winning more money in 21 games than Ken Jennings had at that point. He’d also won $200,000 more than super-champ Mattea Roach had in her impressive 23-game streak.

In one game Pannullo made host Kennings go “Wow!” after he took home a whopping $71,821. This figure beat Tournament of Champions winner Amy Schneider‘s best ever one day total of $71,400.

On Monday’s edition of the Inside Jeopardy! podcast, executive producer Michael Davies said, “We’ve started having these big internal debates about how on earth we’re gonna manage our prize budget, based on how much money Cris was winning.”

“Those debates continue to this day,” he continued. “It’s a big issue, you know; the prize budget is something we do have to manage. We have to estimate at the beginning of the season what we’re gonna give away.”

He added: “You get an aggressive player like Cris who comes in and starts just making a lot of money, making those aggressive Daily Double wagers… There are finance people at Sony who we have to talk to and say ‘Uhh… just gotta let you know about something going on with the game.’”

While Pannullo’s time on the show is done, for now, viewers will get to see him again when he returns for the 2023 Tournament of Champions.

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