(WHTM) — Game shows are all the rage right now, and ABC’s The Chase returns for its second season on Sunday night. One of the titans of the show is Lancaster County’s own Brad Rutter. Brad is the second highest-earning American game show contestant of all time.
“I still get that giddy feeling every time I drive onto the set. I’m at a Hollywood movie studio going to work! It’s just a fantastic feeling,” Rutter said. It all began in Lancaster County where he was an avid reader from an early age and where he played football at Manheim Township. “I had a wonderful time growing up there. My whole family is still there so I get back quite a bit,” Rutter said.
After dropping out of Johns Hopkins University saying school was no longer for him, he worked at a music store at Park City Center. Then he got to live a dream. He was cast on Jeopardy. His mother was thrilled. “My mom has been to every Jeopardy taping that people were allowed to come to and she loves it, but it almost kills her because she is way more nervous than I am,” Rutter said.
Rutter became a major star on Jeopardy, first winning at the age of 23 and then raking in more than $5 million second only to his friend, Ken Jennings. “Well, it’s very gratifying afterward, but during it, your adrenaline is going so high that you don’t really remember it, or at least I don’t,” Rutter said.
He misses one of the greatest game show hosts of all time, Alex Trebek. “They don’t make ’em like him anymore. It’s rare that you encounter somebody who is just the absolute best ever at what they do and Alex was that,” Rutter said.
The Chase has a very different feel from Jeopardy. On the show, Rutter says things like, “I’m ready to take some people down and have them leave here sorely disappointed.” He acknowledges that they ask him to be a villain but remain likable, not an easy balance.
The Chase got renewed for a second season, so the formula appears to be working. In real life, Rutter is no villain. He is pretty humble, claiming he’s not that smart. “I figured I might do pretty well but if you’d told me I’d end up doing as well as I’ve ended up doing I’d have said you were nuts,” Rutter said.
To prepare for The Chase, the 43-year-old does a lot of reading, especially about topics he knows little about, including the songs and artists on today’s pop charts. He says what makes a good game show contestant is someone who has lots of personality while still being themselves.
He has been living in Los Angeles for 14 years now and he plans to stay, hoping to get a hosting job one day or get cast in a sitcom. But he still frequently heads home to see family, enjoying unbeatable Pennsylvania landscapes and getting a slice of pizza in Neffsville, Lancaster County, his hometown that he says, shaped him into the person he is. “Here in LA, it’s surprisingly tough to get good pizza so that’s the one thing I always hit up. My family and I always make a Caruso’s run,” Rutter said.
As for his free time, Rutter is an avid runner, logging 20 miles a week.