Ryan Long on His Best of Philly Picks, His Wawa Order, and the Eagles

Philly’s winningest Jeopardy! contestant shares his gripe with the Rocky statue and the person he’s a little scared to face in the Tournament of Champions.

ryan long

Ryan Long, Jeopardy! champion (and Best of Philly 2022 winner) / Photograph by Stevie Chris

My parents named me … after my mom’s favorite soap opera: Ryan’s Hope.

I was born in … Booth Maternity on City Line Avenue. It’s now dorms for St. Joe’s. And I grew up all over: in University City, Bensalem, Northeast Philly, Germantown and Roxborough. Now, I live in Mount Airy.

My total winnings on Jeopardy! were … $300,401.

The taxes on that are … way, way too much.

The contestant I most fear facing in the Tournament of Champions later this year is … Amy Schneider. Anybody with any brains would worry about facing her.

The first concert I went to in life was … New Kids on the Block at the Spectrum. Ugh. That’s so embarrassing.

My worst subject in high school was … all of them. I was not a conscientious student.

When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be … an actor.

But I wound up becoming … a little bit of everything. I drove a water-ice truck, was a bouncer on Delaware­ Avenue, sold pianos, worked at UPS. I wanded people at the airport, but after 9/11, I got paranoid that I was going to miss something, so I quit. And most recently, I drove for Uber and Lyft.

One thing I’m surprisingly bad at is … remembering things. My memory has been shot since I had COVID.

A movie I’ve watched a million times is … Die Hard. But I think I might have seen the original Star Wars 1,200 times.

One thing about Philly that drives me insane … is that the Rocky statue is not on top of the Art Museum steps.

My most extravagant purchase since Jeopardy! has been … a Sony TV. It’s only 55 inches, but it’s an OLED and the best TV I’ve ever had by far.

People watching the show at home don’t realize … the physical and mental toll. You have to stay sharp all day long in a constant state of competition and TV readiness.

When I’m at Wawa, I usually get … those mozzarella sticks that have been sitting under the heater for 10 hours.

If you let me pick my own personal Best of Philly winners, the list would include … Mama’s in Bala for steak sandwiches, Hideaway Music on Germantown Avenue for vinyl, and the Restore dispensary in Elkins Park. Great selection!

Before going to L.A. for Jeopardy!, my last vacation was to … Busch Gardens, 25 years ago. But L.A. was fun. I got to go to In-N-Out Burger. My next vacation, believe it or not, is to Erie. For some reason, my son wants to go there.

My favorite Philly sports team is … the Eagles, through and through. I think that Jalen Hurts is going to surprise a lot of people this season.

I like to collect … comic books, graphic novels and record albums. I have an original copy of Thriller, though I guess that’s not that much of an accomplishment, since it sold tens of millions of copies.

When somebody recognizes me on the street … I nicely shoot them that look that says, “Please don’t ask me.” But then when they do, I’m as gracious as possible. I’m just not super-comfortable with it.

My plans for the future … are to live well and be happy. That’s it.

Published as “One of Us: Ryan Long” in the August 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.