Update, May 28
Julia Collins has now won 18 games. If she wins on Friday's airing of Jeopardy, she will move into second place on the all-time wins list.
Update, May 27
Julia Collins is still winning, emerging victorious on Monday's and Tuesday's episodes. Her total winnings now come to $372,700.
Original post, May 25
For the last week, an Illinois woman has been racking up the dollars and the wins on Jeopardy — giving her the third longest winning streak in "Jeopardy" history.
Julia Collins, 31, of Kenilworth on the North Shore, added $30,800 to her winner's pot in the program that aired Friday, bringing her total to $314,900.
She'll be back on the show Monday.
So far, she's won 15 games. The previous record of games won by a woman was seven. She's only the fourth person in the history of the show to win more than 10 games. And she's the winningest woman in "Jeopardy" history, too.
Collins, who graduated New Trier High School, attended Wellesley College and majored in both art and history. After Wellesley, she attended MIT where she earned a master's degree in engineering.
"I've watched the show since I was a little kid, maybe 8 or 9," she told Wellesley for a profile on the college website. "It was on mid-afternoon when I was growing up, so I could watch after school. I decided to actually try out when I found out there's an online test offered each January. I tried out five years ago and didn't get called, but went through the audition process again in 2013 and got called right before Christmas."
She told CNN Money that she almost missed that call. She was bringing the Christmas tree through the front door when the phone rang.
The official "Jeopardy" Facebook page is filled with fan comments from all over the country who are cheering for her:
- Joanne Turnbull-Teutloff: "She's all we talk about at home. We are so proud of her! Girl power!! She's so positive and lovely."
- Jeanine Bock Mosher: "Love Julia! She has it all! So smart, sweet & pretty. Great contestant."
- Donna Alt DeVaughn: "She is so smart and creative."
- Sandra Tomlinson: "I'm rooting for you Julia. You go girl!"
- Janet Tchorz: "Hope she stays as long as Jennings. Good luck Julia!"
Collins said she once met "Jeopardy" all-time wins leader, Ken Jennings, who won 74 games and $3 million. In 2005, Dave Madden won 19 games.
Does she have a strategy?
"You have to really be in the moment and not let something rattle you and I think if I was thinking about some grand strategy I would have just distracted myself," Collins told WEAU TV. "I really just focused on buzzing in first, getting the answer right, and keeping control of the board."
And how long will she control that board?Right now, that's between her and Alex Trebek. Because the episodes are filmed in advance, Collins must stay mum about how far she's gone in the game show. But she does post her thoughts on Twitter as the shows air. You can follow her @JeopardyJulia.