Frank Spangenberg

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Frank Spangenberg
Born (1957-07-26) July 26, 1957 (age 64)
Known forJeopardy! champion; former all-time five-day winnings record holder ($205,194 adjusted to 2001 scoring)

Lieutenant Frank Spangenberg (born July 26, 1957) is an American game show contestant who garnered fame in 1990 when he set the five-day cumulative winnings record on Jeopardy!, becoming the first person to win more than $100,000 in five days on the show.[1] He has been called one of the "veritable legends" of the show.[2]


Spangenberg, at the time a member of the New York City Transit Police Department (now the Transit Bureau of the New York City Police Department), won $102,597 in five days in 1990. On his fifth and final appearance, he set a one-day record of $30,600. Prior to 2003, winners were retired after five consecutive victories and due to a winnings cap in place on Jeopardy! at the time, Spangenberg was only able to keep $75,000 of his total winnings; he donated the remaining $27,597 to the Gift of Love Hospice, a facility operated by the Missionaries of Charity.[3] According to Spangenberg, his donation arrived at the facility the day after the hospice learned it needed to install a safety system that totaled approximately the same amount as his excess winnings.[4]

The five-day record remained a net record until 2019, because of rule changes in 2001 regarding the value of clues, and in 2003 eliminating the five-appearance limit. Contestants must win $205,194 in their first five days in order to break Spangenberg's record. Only one contestant (James Holzhauer, winning $298,687 in five days) has done so.[citation needed]

Shortly after he won his first five games in 1990, he appeared on Late Night with David Letterman and played the Jeopardy! home game on the show with Letterman. He would also later appear on its successor program, The Late Show, as a member of the New York City Transit Department choir.[5]

Spangenberg also won Jeopardy!'s Tenth Anniversary Tournament in 1993, winning $41,800,[6] and earlier won $5,000 as a semifinalist in the 1990 version of the annual Tournament of Champions, won $5,000 as a quarterfinalist on the 1990 Super Jeopardy!, then later won $10,000 as a quarterfinalist on the 2002 Jeopardy! Million Dollar Masters, then $105,199 on the 2005 Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions, and finally (as of 2019) $5,000 as a first-round participant in 2014's Jeopardy! Battle of the Decades tournament, bringing his lifetime Jeopardy!-related winnings (regular game and tournaments) to $274,596.

In 2007, Spangenberg was one of sixteen former game show contestants invited to participate in GSN's Grand Slam tournament. Seeded twelfth in the tournament, Spangenberg was matched up with former United States Navy officer David Legler, who had won a then-record setting $1.765 million on Twenty One in 2000. Spangenberg only won one of the three rounds of play against Legler and lost after his allotted time ran out.

City Council candidacy[edit]

Spangenberg was a candidate for the 19th district of the New York City Council in 2021. He was in the Democratic Party primary to replace term-limited Paul Vallone that occurred on June 22, 2021.[7]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Final 'Jeopardy!' For Ace City Cop". New York Daily News. May 19, 2005. Retrieved 2010-10-04. Spangenberg, 47, came up short in the TV quiz show's "Ultimate Tournament of Champions" semifinal round, losing to Los Angeles screenwriter Jerome Vered. ... In 1990, Spangenberg won more than $100,000 on "Jeopardy!"[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Lynn Elber. Associated Press. "Book details joy of 'Jeopardy!'". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. October 11, 2006. 8B.
  3. ^ Official Sony Pictures Spangenberg 2016 interview video
  4. ^ "Frank Spangenberg'S $27,597 Gift". Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  5. ^ "Frank Spangenberg, Jr". IMDb, Inc. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  6. ^ "After the Headlines; Fame, Fleeting Fame, Found These New Yorkers. Then What Happened?". The New York Times. Dec 27, 1998. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  7. ^ "'Jeopardy!' Champ Frank Spangenberg Running For City Council". Patch. Mar 10, 2021. Retrieved June 4, 2021.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Brian Wangsgard
Biggest Jeopardy! winners by season
Succeeded by
Mark Born
Preceded by
Garrett Simpson
Biggest one-day winners on Jeopardy! by season
Succeeded by
Mark Born
Preceded by
Bob Blake $82,501 (1984-2001 values)
Jane Gschwend $8,250 (1964-75 values)
Biggest Jeopardy! regular play winnings leader
(first 5 days for those after 2003 rule change)

$102,597 (1984-2001 values)
$205,194 (value-to-beat after 2001 rule changes)
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Kevin Frear and Bob Blake
1988 and 1989
Biggest one-day winner on Jeopardy!

Succeeded by
Jerome Vered
Preceded by
Bruce Seymour
Super Jeopardy!
Best of the best Jeopardy! Tournament winner
Tenth Anniversary Tournament
Succeeded by

NOTE: The largest regular play winnings record is based only on a contestant's first five days (until 2003, contestants were retired after five wins), and contestants must reach $205,194 in their first five days to break the record (in 2001 clue values doubled).