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'Jeopardy!' champ finally loses after winning $428,100 in 21 games

June 3, 2014 at 8:49 AM ET

After winning $428,100 over 21 appearances, Julia Collins' lengthy winning streak on "Jeopardy!" has finally ended. 

The 31-year-old management consultant from Kenilworth, Illinois, lost on Monday, but she is now the winningest female contestant in the show's 30-year history, and the No. 2 all-time "Jeopardy!" champ in consecutive wins. (Ken Jennings holds the record with $2,520,700 in 74 victories.) 

After winning 20 straight games, Collins went into Final Jeopardy Monday in second place with $11,000.

"This is the first time in a long, long time in which Julia has not led going into the finals," host Alex Trebek pointed out before the final commercial break of the night.

Collins was stumped by the last clue of the night: Winning for 1999, this New England writer is the last person to win an Oscar for adapting his own novel.

She incorrectly answered, "Who is Chabon?" which cost her every penny she had earned from Monday's game.

The TODAY anchors didn't know the answer either. Matt Lauer guessed Frank McCourt (and blamed his smelly marker for making him too woozy to come up with the correct answer) and Savannah Guthrie wrote down "John Updike or Stephen King." Natalie Morales had the correct answer, but admitted she got it "only because Carson (Daly) told me so!" (And he had to Google it.)

The correct answer was "Who is John Irving," which challenger Brian Laughnane, who went into Final Jeopardy in first place with $12,600, answered correctly. Laughnane became the new champ with a total of $22,600.

Collins congratulated the new winner Monday night.

But she also got a shout-out from Jennings.

Though Collins' streak is over, it won't be the last of her on "Jeopardy!" As Trebek pointed out at the end of the show, she'll be back later for the Tournament of Champions.

Collins said in an interview with NBCChicago.com that she was glad her streak could be an example to women.

"If it helps dispel the idea that women aren't as good 'Jeopardy!' players as men, that would be great," she said. "It's good to see women being applauded for being smart."

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