Do Canadians Dominate on Jeopardy?

In case you hadn’t heard: Canadians have been temporarily prevented from being able to take the Jeopardy! online test. I went on the Larry Fedoruk Show on 610 CKTB recently to talk about it.

One comment that I have heard quite often in the past week is that Canadians dominate on Jeopardy; thus, the Americans are afraid of being shown up. I thus decided to take a look at the data to see if that fun Canadian theory actually plays out.

Looking At The Data

I’ve gone back to the beginning of Season 21, and searched J! Archive for “Canada”. This brings up every contestant who elected to represent Canada as a contestant, either as a “from” or “originally from”. There are obviously some other expats who were missed, but they also generally don’t get noticed by the general populace as it stands. Season 21 is a convenient starting point, as the Archive has complete information from that point forward, and it also was the beginning of the “challengers get significantly more rehearsal time” era of the show. Since then, a returning champion averages very close to a 50% win percentage (calculations will therefore tell you that a challenger has a 25% chance of winning a game, and the average champion’s run is exactly 2 victories.) As you can see below, while Canadians have had a signficant dry spell as of late, over the past eleven years and change, Canadians have had a reasonably good record on the program, at least when starting out.


Season Players Winners Wins Avg. Run
21 2 0 0 0.0
22 26 11 17 1.5
23 7 2 4 2.0
24 7 2 4 2.0
25 8 4 8 2.0
26 1 1 3 3.0
27 5 2 3 1.5
28 0 0 0 0.0
29 9 2 3 1.5
30 12 6 8 1.3
31 8 1 5 5.0
32 5 0 0 0.0
Total 90 31 55 1.8
Expected 90 22.5 45 2.0

What does this mean?

Well, what it means is that while Canadians are better-than-average when it comes to actually winning on the show, Canadians certainly seem to have a slightly-below-average record in stringing together a ToC-level run. (If you consider generally 400 contestants playing for 13 ToC slots, the chances of there being 2 or fewer representatives in an average selection of 90 contestants come in at about 40%; Canada’s only ToC representatives in this time frame have been Doug Hicton and Andrew Haringer).

In conclusion: I’d hardly call that “domination”. Sorry, guys, but the Americans just aren’t being shown up very much by us.

2 Comments on "Do Canadians Dominate on Jeopardy?"

  1. David Kendall | February 27, 2016 at 1:47 pm |

    I’m pretty sure the “it’s because we’re smarter than them” is said in jest (with a dash of national bravado), or at least a “sour grapes” way, and not something they truly believe.

    I have done my own research in successful Canadians on the show (as defined by your metric) and best I can tell (counting only regular runs) the most wins by a Canadian is 5 (several, including a few in the 5’s the limit era), and highest winnings is just shy of $100K by Andrew. Am I off?

  2. From what I can tell, there have been eight ToCers billed from Canada: Bruce Fauman, Barbara-Anne Eddy, Bob Blake, Robert Slaven, Michael Daunt, Lan Djang, Doug Hicton, and Andrew Haringer. With the exception of Hicton, all won 5 games, and aside from Eddy (who was competitive in her quarterfinal before going for the lockout & missing in Final), all at least made the semifinals of their ToC. Of course, Blake won, and Fauman, Daunt, and Hicton were finalists. If you count reunion tournaments, 1999 Teen Tournament winner Melissa Seal (nee Sexstone) was billed from Canada for her Ultimate ToC game only. In any event, none competed in the same season or ToC, so it’s not like there’s ever been a Canadian invasion.

    The Canadians that do make the ToC tend to do well, but Canadians seemed to be more liable to have success on the show in the 1980s and 1990s, as in between Djang’s 2001 run and Haringer’s in 2015, no Canadian contestant even won 4 games. Six 3-timers that were billed from Canada ran between seasons 22 & 26 (Nathaniel Barnes, Doug Hicton, Bruce Lin, Dan Sander, Darryl Tahirali, and Kevin Wilson), but only Hicton won enough to qualify. Of the other five, Tahirali won the most, but Wilson hung on to the ToC leaderboard the longest, as he was only knocked off in March 2010 of that year by Vijay Balse, two months shy of that ToC.

    Given that Andrew Haringer is actually from the US (as he noted during his ToC semifinal), there hasn’t been a Canadian-born winner of 4+ games since the sky’s the limit era began. I would agree that there hasn’t been Canadian domination, especially since in the last 15 years, but hopefully producers can work things out so that we can see more Canadians get their chance!

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