Woman's $428K win streak on 'Jeopardy!' ends

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by AP & CBS News

The Associated Press

Posted on June 3, 2014 at 8:09 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 3 at 11:15 AM

LOS ANGELES -- The reign of the winningest female contestant in "Jeopardy!" history has come to an end.

Julia Collins, 31, lost during her 21st appearance on the pre-taped episode that aired Monday. The Chicago-area resident accumulated a total of $428,100 during her 20 victories on the syndicated series.

Collins was vanquished by Brian Loughnane, an investment operations manager from Scituate, Massachusetts. Collins went into the final-question showdown in second place, bet everything and lost it.

Loughnane, who is from Ireland, won $22,600.

The clue that stumped her: The New England writer who in 1999 became the last person to win an Oscar for adapting his own novel as a screenplay. She failed to answer with the correct question: Who is John Irving? His novel and film are titled "The Cider House Rules."

Monday's game overall "just didn't go my way," Collins said in a phone interview, adding, "I couldn't have loved being on the show more."

Host Alex Trebek's salute to Collins after her streak ended: "Well done, young lady."

Collins said she was glad her record might serve as an example of female achievement.

"If it helps dispel the idea that women aren't as good `Jeopardy!' players as men, that would be great," she said. "It's good to see women being applauded for being smart."

Her winnings helped finance a dream trip to Paris, where she rented an apartment for a month. Some may fund future travel adventures, Collins said.

The management consultant, who's been enjoying a hiatus thanks to "Jeopardy!", said she plans to get back into the work world.

The previous top female player for consecutive wins was Stephanie Jass, who took seven games in a row in season 29. Collins displaced her and Larissa Kelly, who was No. 1 in total winnings with $222,597.

Collins holds the No. 2 spot for most consecutive wins behind all-time "Jeopardy!" champ Ken Jennings. He won 74 straight games in season 21 for a total prize of $2.5 million.

She is the third-highest money winner for non-tournament play on "Jeopardy!" behind Jennings and Dave Madden, who won $430,400.

Future "Jeopardy!" contestants might want to consider her advice: Practice your buzzer technique so you can beat out your usually-knowledgeable competitors, and restrain yourself from guessing at answers.

And stay calm.

"I was more relaxed than I thought I would be" when she first played, Collins said. "I thought I was going to have a little `deer in the headlights' experience. ... I tried not to put too much pressure on myself, not worrying about things I don't know. "

Collins will be back for the "Jeopardy!" tournament of champions next season.

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