Inductees: Trivia Hall of Fame ™

Class of 2011

Over the summer of 2011, people picked five of 14 nominees for the first inductees in the Trivia Hall of FameTM. Here are the top five vote getters!

  1. Ken Jennings (84%)
  2. Alex Trebek (76%)
  3. Chris Haney and Scott Abbott (68%)
  4. Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur (46%)
  5. Norris and Ross McWhirter (41%)

Just missing the cut was Robert Ripley. Also nominated were Kevin Ashman, Pat Gibson, Brad Rutter, Don Reid, John Carpenter, Fred L Worth, Ed Goodgold, Kevin Olmstead and Jim Oz Oliva.

Who do you want to nominate for the 2012 inductees to the Trivia Hall of FameTM?


1) Ken Jennings

In addition to winning 74 straight Jeopardy games, smashing just about every one of the show's records in the process, this former star of the Brigham Young University quiz bowl team is also the author of Brainiac (a social history of trivia), a "trivia almanac" and Maphead. Read our interview with Jennings.


2) Alex Trebek

Trebek brought quiz shows back to prime time as the host of the 1980s revival of Jeopardy. He has, however, hosted many game shows in his career, and in 1966 hosted Reach for the Top, a Canadian quiz show for high schoolers. More recently, he has hosted the National Geographic World Championship.


3) Chris Haney and Scott Abbott

Trivia was pretty much dead in the early 1980s, when an improbably successful board game was created by two Canadians. Haney and Abbott created Trivial Pursuit and, despite the huge production costs, turned the game into a massive hit. Formerly in the Montreal newspaper business, the pair became millionaires.


4) Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur

Pearson and Hattikudur were at Duke when they created what is now Mental Floss magazine as a campus publication. Despite a bleak environment for magazine startups, Pearson and Hattikudur turned Mental Floss into a monster hit that spun off a series of books and board games. Read our interview with them.


5) Norris and Ross McWhirter

In 1955, a debate about Europe's fastest game bird led the twin brothers Norris and Ross McWhirter to create the Guinness Book of Records, which became the world's biggest selling non-copyrighted book. Later in life, the pair became involved in arch-conservative causes and Ross McWhirter was killed by the IRA.


The class of 2012

Future Jeopardy writer Steve Temerius founded the United States Trivia Association in 1979 as a way to bring together the various bits of the emerging trivia community. To that end, it published a fanzine called Trivia Unlimited until 1983. We also discovered that one of the things the USTA did was create a "trivia hall of fame" in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a tip of the hat to him, we are inducting the first people he and his partners picked.

1) Robert Ripley

A former semipro baseball player and New York State handball champ, Robert Ripley's Believe It Or Not column featured a few odd facts, along with illustrations by Ripley. One of the 1929 columns ("Believe It or Not, America has no national anthem") created such an uproar that by 1931, Congress had made The Star Spangled Banner official. The columns became the backbone of an empire that included books, a radio show, short films, a TV show, games and museums.


2) Art Fleming

Fleming was a minor actor best known for his works in commercials, in particular for intoning the grammatically incorrect and medically dangerous assertion that "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should." Merv Griffin spotted him in an airline ad, and invited him to audition for Jeopardy. He was the host throughout both of its original runs, from 1964-75 and again in the 1978-79 season.


The class of 2013

Attendees at the Trivia Championships of North America elected one person from a list of five.

1) Fred L. Worth

His Super Trivia Encyclopedia almost single-handedly resurrected the trivia world in the 1970s and a major influence on Trivial Pursuit, so much so that Worth sued the game's creators. He was elected at TCONA 3 and Ed Toutant's speech nominating him quickly became the stuff of legend. Read our interview with Worth.


The class of 2014

A combination of votes online and at the Trivia Championships of North America selected the inductees. Also nominated were Gordon "Uncle John" Javna, Quiz Bowl founder Don Reid, and WWTBAM host Regis Philbin.

1) Brad Rutter

As far as we can tell, Brad Rutter is the only person alive who has never lost a Jeopardy game (counting multi-day matches as one game). At least not to a human being. He has even made a habit of regularly defeating Ken Jennings. Having won $4.5 million on Jeopardy, he is also the biggest money winner in US game show history. Even so, he lost a chance to star in a US version of The Chase, a UK quiz show, because by all accounts he was just too darn nice.Read our interview with Brad Rutter. Watch his induction speech.

2) David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace and Amy Wallace

In 1975, David Wallechinsky and his father Irving Wallace produced the first People's Almanac, a reference work meant to be read for fun, one that challenged received orthodoxy wherever it could. The volume was so successful that it produced two sequels, and since the most popular chapter in the book was the one full of lists, it also spawned The Book of Lists, which also produced a string of sequels. For this series, they were joined by Amy Wallace, David's sister and Irving's daughter. Read our intervew with Wallechinsky and watch his induction speech


The class of 2015

Also on the ballot this year were Arthur Chu, Gordon Javna and Allen Ludden. Ludden placed a close third.

1) Roger Craig

With his daring play, Roger quickly became a legend among Jeopardy circles, both for his unpredictable moves around the board and for his aggressive game-changing bets. He broke Ken Jenning's all-time record for single-day winnings and in 2014, he fought his way into the finals of the Battle of the Decades, along with Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. Read our interview with Roger Craig.

2) Jane Allen, Chris Jones, Steven de Ceuster and Anurakshat Gupta

The International Quizzing Association was founded by quizzers from several countries: England's Jane Allen and Chris Jones, Belgium's Steven de Ceuster, Estonia's Arko Olesk and India's Anurakshat Gupta, who along with others expanded the IQA, and its annual World Quizzing Championships, to the US and around the world (l to r: Paul Bailey, de Ceuster, Gupta, Allen, Jones, Olesk)


The class of 2016

Also on the ballot this year were Allen Ludden, who again placed a close third, Cecil Adams and Kevin Olmstead.

1) Thorsten A. Integrity

Software engineer Shayne Bushfield created Learned League, almost as a lark for some of his Seattle area friends. Instead it exploded, attracting thousands of people including trivia royalty and actual celebrities. What began as a hobby became a full-time career, bringing together on the same battlefield pretty much every serious trivia gunslinger in North America and, increasingly, around the world.

2) Julia Collins

In 2014, Julia Collins amassed Jeopardy's second-longest winning streak, with 20 straight wins. Altogether, she won $479,100, placing fifth overall, as of 2016. Along with Arthur Chu's run earlier that year, her run also produced important conversations about race, gender, social media and the trivia world.


The class of 2017

Also on the ballot this year were Siddhartha Basu (who placed third), Michael Davies, Mark Labbett and Stanley Newman.

1) Cindy Stowell

Cindy Stowell won six Jeopardy games and $105,803, despite considerable pain and discomfort due to terminal illness. She died eight days before her first game aired, but donated her winnings to various cancer charities. She did, however, see an advance DVD copy of her first three wins.

2) Allen Ludden

Allen Ludden hosted GE College Bowl and a number of other quiz and game shows, notably various incarnations of Password. GE College Bowl was revived in the 1970s as a non-televised campus activity and has since become a training ground for many of America’s best trivia players.