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Austin Rogers out after narrow loss

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Lynn Elber
Published 7:47 a.m. ET Oct. 13, 2017 | Updated 7:49 a.m. ET Oct. 13, 2017

LOS ANGELES — The goofy and entertaining reign of Jeopardy! champ Austin Rogers is over.

The New York City bartender narrowly lost on Thursday’s show after a 12-game winning streak that netted him a total $411,000, putting him in fifth place for all-time regular season winnings.

He’s satisfied with the run, Rogers said in an interview.

“I set myself out to win one game. I had no idea I’d be this wildly successful,” he said. “I had no idea I’d find it, honestly, this easy.”

MORE: Did you catch that ‘Jeopardy!’ clue featuring USA TODAY?

He credits his study of history at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, for encouraging his curious nature, and says devising questions for the trivia quiz nights he hosts proved “a little helpful” on the show.

Scarlett Sims, a stay-at-home mother from Oak Ridge, Tenn., ended up with $51 more than Rogers after the final question, $33,201 to his $33,150.

Rogers won’t be away long: He’ll compete in the two-week Jeopardy! tournament of champions that begins Nov. 6.

He brought an unusually freewheeling, improv-comedy approach to the quiz show. While most players stand obediently as they’re introduced, for instance, Rogers came up with bits of funny business, such as mimicking making a phone call from the stage.

That wasn’t an act for the TV audience, Rogers said. “My know-it-all-ism is who I am. This is not a facade, unfortunately, America. This is how I behave in everyday situations.”

The reaction to his antics surprised Rogers.

“I had a vague feeling that people would be like, ‘Oh, this guy’s sort of random,’” he said, and figured he might be recognized by a few Jeopardy! fans on the street. He didn’t expect to be invited to appear on “Good Morning America.”

But why not? He was the cocky player who dared to high-five host Alex Trebek.

“Austin was outside the box — completely different from what many viewers expect a Jeopardy! contestant to be,” Trebek said in a statement. “He was fun to be with and slightly irreverent.”

Rogers’ money tally put him behind Ken Jennings, David Madden, Julia Collins and Matt Jackson, a Jeopardy! spokeswoman said. He’s tied with Seth Wilson at No. 5 for most consecutive games won, with Jennings again topping the list.

Rogers said he’s hoping to build a media career out of his Jeopardy! fame and is mulling what shape that might take. The only certainty at this point is what he’ll do with his winnings: save, not spend.

“I don’t have any real need for that much money. I live a happy life, I’ve got a nice apartment, I don’t have a girlfriend that I need to spend money on right now, I don’t like fancy clothing, I don’t have a car.”

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