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October 06, 2022

'Jeopardy!' contestant from Jersey Shore on verge of 5-game winning streak

A victory Thursday will qualify Cris Pannullo for a future Tournament of Champions

TV Jeopardy
Cris Pannullo Jeopardy Courtesy of/Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Cris Pannullo, of Ocean City, New Jersey, has won four straight 'Jeopardy!' games, earning $11,058. He previously was a contestant on the ABC game show 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'

Cris Pannullo, a "Jeopardy!" contestant from Ocean City, is making waves with a four-game winning streak that has earned him more than $100,000.

If Pannullo wins Thursday night, he could qualify for a future Tournament of Champions, a two-week event that pits contestants who won at least five games against one another. 

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Pannullo, a customer success operations manager, entered Wednesday's show with $83,458. He then won another $27,600 by beating Tory Martin, a communications and fundraising director from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Francis Gomes, a quality assurance technologist from Ontario, Canada. That brought his total winnings to $111,058.

After dominating the first two rounds Wednesday, Pannullo went into Final Jeopardy! with $28,8000, which was $20,000 more than either of the other contestants had. The category was "Travel," and the clue was: "The 1948 edition of this publication said, 'There will be a day ... in the near future when this guide will not have to be published.'" Pannullo answered incorrectly with "Zagat," losing his wager of $1,200. The correct answer was "The Green Book." 

On Thursday, Pannullo will face Jo Austin, a retired IT project manager from Manlius, New York, and Jeff Parker, a theater professor from Arvada, Colorado.

A former professional poker player, Pannullo has shown talent for finding Daily Doubles and placing large wagers that set him ahead of the other contestants early.

When host Ken Jennings asked Pannullo during Wednesday's game whether his risk-taking with Daily Doubles reflects a willingness to take risks in real life, the answer perhaps surprised viewers.

"Oh, God no, Ken, I am a generally terrified person," Pannullo said. "I drive slowly. I watch when I cross the streets – check several, seven or eight times. I just try to keep it very safe."

Pannullo has told Jennings about his pet bunny, named Lentils, which he and his girlfriend Heather have had for 10 years. The couple also has a tradition of trying to guess the Final Jeopardy! answer based on the category alone.

This is not Pannullo's first go-around on an ABC game show. In 2018, Pannullo appeared on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" He left with $5,000 after missing a $7,000 question. 

Pannullo shows no signs of slowing down on "Jeopardy!" If his winning streak continues he'll join legends like Ryan Long, a former rideshare driver from Mount Airy, Philadelphia, who had a thrilling 16-game winning streak. 

As Pannullo's "Jeopardy!" run heats up, Long is preparing for the next Tournament of Champions, which begins Oct. 31. Last month, Long was honored for his achievements by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney at a ceremony at City Hall. 

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