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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Jeopardy! champ Jennings has Fulton County kin

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Question: Where is Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings' great-great-grandfather, Elias William Love Jennings, buried?

Answer: Caney Spring Cemetery in the tiny Izard County community of Sage, near Melbourne.

Jennings may or may not know where his ancestor is buried or his connections to this part of rural Arkansas, but his cousin, Jasmine Jennings, does.

"My grandpa, Charles Luther Stillwell Jennings, and Ken's great-great grandpa were brothers," said Jasmine Jennings Jan. 13 from her home in Salem.

Jennings became an overnight celebrity last year after he reeled off a record 74 consecutive wins on the popular ABC game show Jeopardy!.

The $2.52 million Jennings won is the all-time game show winnings record.

Jennings was defeated in his 75th match in December by Nancy Zerg, a California real estate agent.

Jeopardy! producers have initiated a tournament in which 150 past Jeopardy! champions will vie for two spots to oppose Jennings in a "Super Match" in May.

The winner of the Super Match will take home $2 million in prize money. The tournament has been affectionately nicknamed the "quest for Ken" by Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.

Jasmine Jennings, 74, said before her cousin became a Jeopardy! champion she didn't know he existed.

"His family moved away from here to Mule Shoe, Texas. From there I think his family branched off into Utah," Jasmine Jennings said.

She said she hasn't had contact with any of Jennings' immediate family, but she is still proud of her distant cousin.

"He must be the smartest Jennings of all," she said.

Besides Jasmine Jennings, other area residents, Mila Wayne and Billie and Cecil Welch, are related to Jennings.

Jasmine Jennings said she learned of her relationship to the Jeopardy! phenom through her cousin, Harold Blevins, of Huntsville, Ala.

She said Blevins has constructed a Jennings family genealogy that tracks the family's ancestry back to the Jennings' American patriarch, James A. Jennings of Virginia.

Before coming to America, the Jennings family resided in Ireland, Jasmine Jennings said.

Jennings, who spent most of her life in Monette, Mo., said she doesn't watch game shows often, but watches Jeopardy! and the Price is Right from time to time.

Now that her cousin is a game show icon, will she watch him compete in the Super tournament?

"I'm sure I will. He's close enough relation to me to be proud of what he does, but probably not close enough to get any money," Jasmine said with a grin.

Would she like the chance to compete on a game show like Jeopardy! ?

"No way. I think Ken sucked up all the smarts in the Jennings family," Jasmine Jennings said.

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