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Ken Jennings: Trivia Not Trivial

Ken Jennings is a "Jeopardy!" legend. He won 74 games in a row on the popular quiz show, earning more than $2.5 million in the process.

Now he's written a book about — you guessed it — trivia!

It's called "Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs."

Jennings discussed it with co-anchor Harry Smith on The Early Show Wednesday.

To read an excerpt of "Brainiac", click here.

Jennings quickly became a pop culture phenomenon and minor celebrity when he won all those consecutive games in 2004 and last year.

Since then, Jennings has given up his office job as a computer programmer, moved his family from Salt Lake City to Seattle, where he's from, traveled around the country for a year observing various trivia contests and meeting trivia fanatics, and penned "Brainiac."

He told Smith that "Jeopardy!" was actually a part of his life when he was young because his father worked in Korea..

"We lived overseas," Jennings said. "There was only one English-language channel. It turned out 'Jeopardy!' was on every day when we came home from school, so 'Jeopardy!' was a big topic on my elementary school playground."

Jennings said by then, the show was hosted by Alex Trebek, not the original host, Art Fleming.

Asked by Smith about the feeling of some that the Fleming-hosted shows had tougher questions — err — answers, Jennings disagreed, saying, "If they've dumbed it down much, I haven't noticed. 'Jeopardy!' is still smarter than almost anything else on TV."

In "Brainiac," Jennings analyzes the word "trivia," and contends that trivia isn't trivial.

"Trivial means 'worthless,' right?" Jennings asked rhetorically. "But
'Brainiac' is sort of a manifesto that, 'No, this isn't worthless. It's important to know this weird stuff. The weirder, the better. It's an ice-breaker at parties, if nothing else!"

Some audience members tried to stump Jennings on some trivia questions — and succeeded!

Even The Early Show weatherman and features reporter Dave Price got in on the act, challenging Jennings to question him on weather trivia. Jennings asked how Chicago got its nickname, "The Windy City," and Price knew the correct answer has nothing to do with weather. Rather, the term refers to politics — as in long-winded politicians!

To watch the Jennings interview, click here.

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