Academics and account managers. Ivy League graduates. Teachers. Mild-mannered Philadelphia rideshare driver Ryan Long has beaten them all during his 16-game winning streak on Danger! with a combination of luck, strategic bets and mastery of certain categories.
But Long’s journey on the popular game show ended Monday night, when he finished in third place behind National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Ahasic and actress Stephanie Garrison.
Long, 39, closed the gap with Ahasic entering Final Jeopardy trailing $3,400 and facing the following Greek mythology index:
Among the Argonauts seeking the Golden Fleece, these two of the same family were from Sparta according to Homer.
Long replied “Who are Agamemnon and Menelaus?” which was incorrect, leaving him with only $1. Ahasic answered correctly with “Who are Castor and Pollux”, winning the game and knocking Long down with a final score of $18,401.
Long ends his Danger! running with the ninth-most consecutive wins in the show’s history, dating back to 2003, when a five-game cap was lifted. Overall, he will take home $300,400 before taxes – $299,400 in winnings and $1,000 for finishing third on Monday.
Long called the gains “life changing,” but he’s not looking to make any sensational purchases. Instead, after meeting with financial advisors, he plans to pay off existing debt.
“To me, paying the bills and paying for the car is exciting,” Long said.
Long’s success on Danger! came at an opportune time. He was forced to quit his job as a paratransit driver for SEPTA’s Personalized Community Transportation Program last year after a difficult battle with COVID-19, which still affects him. He turned to driving for Uber, Lyft and DoorDash to support his 8-year-old son, Nathan, who made the necklace Long wore on the show.
Not much has changed since Long, other than being recognized as a local Danger! star around town (although Twitter refused a request to verify his account). The show only pays contestants after they air on TV, so Long hasn’t received the money he knew he made months ago.
“I have my head on a pivot right now, but I have nothing,” Long joked.
Despite the defeat, Long’s Danger! career is not over. He will return in the fall for the show’s Tournament of Champions, where he will face Amy Schneider, Mattea Roach and the other most successful competitors of this year. Long said he was looking forward to meeting everyone, but admitted not following their Danger! runs too close.
“I actually don’t watch the show religiously,” Long said. “I grew up watching the show, and I’ll catch it here and there, but most of the time I’m working.”
Sitcom star Mayim Bialik hosted all 17 of Long’s matches. He said he was angered by the criticism she received online as one of the show’s guest hosts.
“It seems like a lot of people are looking at Mayim online and I find that really, really unfair,” Long said. “I’m not picking a horse or anything, but some of the reviews online have been really exaggerated. She was super, super nice during my time on the show.
Bialik shares hosting duties with the former Danger! champ Ken Jennings — who holds the series title “Greatest of All Time” — for the remainder of Season 38, which ends in July. After that, the show will decide on a permanent host to replace the late Alex Trebek, who died in November 2020 of pancreatic cancer.
As for tips, Long has a simple suggestion for those who want to compete on Danger! – just apply.
“People should just try. They make it easier than ever to take the online test. If you think you have it, don’t get discouraged and think you’re out of luck,” Long said. “If I was on TV and doing something, then a lot of other people could be too.”