Jennings Makes It 36

Ken Jennings has one more fact and figure to keep track of.

According to "Jeopardy!", where he is the reigning champion, Jennings is closing in on the record for longest TV game show winning streak - which is 46 games in a row.

Wednesday, Jennings racked up his 36th "Jeopardy!" win, beating his challengers with a very fast finger on the buzzer as well as slews of right answers - making up for a few wrong ones.

The latest victory added $30,000 to his winnings, bringing them up to a total of $1,194,660.

Thursday, as his fans watch him try to keep his winning streak going on the game show - which is pre-taped, five at a time - Jennings will be rubbing elbows with celebrities again as he appears on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," along with actress Julia Stiles.

It's not the first time the Utah software engineer has had a taste of glamour - he's already appeared on "Late Show with David Letterman," reading the famed Top Ten List, and on other nationally broadcast programs including , also on CBS.

Thanks to a rule change last fall ending the five-game limit for winners, Jennings is allowed to stay on the show so long as he keeps winning, and he's long ago shattered the records set by "Jeopardy!" contestants in non-tournament games.

The length of Jennings' winning streak is a secret more closely guarded than some matters of state, in the tradition of TV cliffhangers from "The Fugitive" and "Dallas" and final episodes of powerhouse shows like "Seinfeld," "Frasier" and "Friends," and of course, "Survivor" and its kissing cousins.

In many ways, Jennings's life seems to have prepared him for his moment in the sun as king of "Jeopardy!". The 20-year-old game show is built on a bedrock of facts and figures from around the world and a love of patterns - in letters, words, numbers and even ideas.

While Jennings, 30, does study up on many categories, some of the answers for him can come from life experience.

He grew up attending schools in South Korea, Washington state, and Utah, lived in Spain on a mission for the Mormon Church, was on the College Bowl team at Brigham Young University, and graduated with a double major in computer science and English.

Even his hobbies - hiking, writing and watercolor and acrylic painting - are helpful in a situation where seemingly trivial facts can be cashed in for real dollars.

Jennings also edits literature questions for the National Academic Quiz Tournament, so it may not be much of a stretch for him to arrange his brain in the form of answers and questions.

The previous champ for the game show - which has been awarded 24 Emmys since its debut - is Tom Walsh, a former policy advisor to the Senate Finance Committee, who won $184,900 this past January.

Jennings admits he's enjoying it, but says he'll be just as happy when he returns to a quieter life with his wife, Mindy, their 18-month-old son Dylan, and the family dog, Banjo.

Dylan will be getting the lion's share of the "Jeopardy!" jackpot.

It's earmarked, says his dad, for the college fund.

"Jeopardy!" is distributed by King World Productions, which along with CBS News, is a part of Viacom.