Julia Collins Knocked Off ‘Jeopardy!’ After Historic Run

PHOTO: Alex Trebek, host of the TV show "Jeopardy!," poses with contestant Julia Collins, 31, of Kenilworth, Ill., during the taping of her shows on stage at JEOPARDY!, Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City, Calif., Jan. 2014.
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Julia Collins racked up more wins than any other woman in "Jeopardy!" history, but today her record run came to end.

She made $428,000 after winning on the show 20 times in a row. She was the third-biggest money winner after past contestants Ken Jennings and David Madden.

Collins went into Final Jeopardy today trailing another contestant by $1,000 but gave the wrong response and bet it all, leaving her with zero. The Chicago-area resident gets to keep the prize money she accumulated during her 20 straight victories.

The success she had previously marked a dream come true for Collins, who predicted she'd become a champion on the show in her eighth-grade yearbook, she said.

"I was a pretty nerdy kid," Collins, a resident of the Chicago suburb of Wilmette, said last week. "I liked to shout out the answers to the TV like everybody else does."

Collins' appearances on the show answered a question for her friends and family: Why did she quit her consulting job and take her time finding new work?

"I did a lot of hemming and hawing about why I was less aggressive than I could have been," Collins said, explaining that she was prohibited by the show from talking about the program at all between mid-January, when she started taping them, and April, when they started to air, or the $10,000 to $35,000 she was winning a day.

Beyond financial flexibility, she also finds empowerment in her success. Girls have sent her emails saying they feel like they have to dumb themselves down. Not so, Collins says.

"If someone doesn't like you because you're smart," she said, "that's their problem."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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