Wednesday night’s episode of “Jeopardy!” shocked fans as the game ended with a very rare and thrilling tiebreaker, eventually leading to the win of Christine Whelchel.
Whelchel has plenty of reasons to celebrate aside from being declared the new “Jeopardy!” champ. During the program, she told host Ken Jennings that she was battling breast cancer throughout the time she tried out to get on the show. But the good news is that she is now in remission.
“I was diagnosed in March of 2021, and one of the first things I did a couple of weeks after being diagnosed was take the “Jeopardy!” test,” Whelchel detailed her journey. “And I ended up getting my audition the night before my surgery in May.”
“Well, evidently the audition went well,” said Jennings. “You’re here. And I hope the surgery [went well] too.”
“Everything else went well and I’m cancer-free as of right now,” Whelchel replied, prompting the studio audience to applaud the good news.
The official “Jeopardy!” Twitter account shared a clip of the conversation with the caption: “Cancer-free and now on Jeopardy! Congratulations, Christine.”
Wheschel’s win proved to be dramatic as she found herself in a rare tiebreaker event with two-day champ Henry Rozycki.
During the Final “Jeopardy!” round, under the category “Play Characters,” the opponents were given this clue: “A 1949 review noted the ‘wrong formulas for success’ of this character & ‘fatal misconceptions about his place in the scheme of things.'”
All three contestants gave the right answer, “Willy Loman.” Third-placer Patrick Byrnett wagered his entire $8,800 total and ended up with $17,600.
Rozycki, a physician and professor, doubled his cash earnings and brought his final score to $34,000, leaving Whelchel to reveal whether she had wagered enough of her $19,000 to emerge the winner.
As Jennings noted, Whelchel needed to end up with just $1 more than Rozycki to become the champion. However, she bet only $15,000, also bringing her total to $34,000.
For a long time, this event would result in the two contestants being named co-champions and will be set to appear again in the next episode. But in 2016, the show changed that rule to create a tiebreaker question round, explained Jennings.
“I’m going to reveal a category, and then read you a single clue,” said Jennings, the most successful “Jeopardy!” contestant of all time. “The first player to ring in with a correct response is our new Jeopardy! champion. Simple.”
It’s a quick and fun way to extract a single winner, while also adding to the viewers’ excitement.
Jennings announced that the two contestants would have to face off in an extraordinary tiebreaker round, saying that the first player to buzz in with the correct answer would be declared the day’s winner.
In the category “Flowers,” Jennings read the clue: “After its inclusion in a 1915 poem, this red flower became a symbol of fallen World War I soldiers.”
Whelchel buzzed in first and chimed in with the correct response, “Poppy,” prompting Jennings to declare: “Christine, you are our new Jeopardy! champion! Cancer-free and $34,000 richer. Congratulations to you. What a victory!”
There have been four ties before this, but this is only the second time in the show’s history that an unusual wager amount resulted in a tiebreaker.
Many fans took to social media to express their excitement over the event.
“In all my years of watching #jeopardy I’ve never seen a tie till tonight,” a viewer said on Twitter.
“Oh my GOD there’s a TIE on Jeopardy that was exhilarating,” another wrote.
On a recent episode of the quiz show Christine appeared on the show without her wig — hair loss is a common adverse effect of chemo treatments. She said said wants to normalize what recovery looks like for a lot of cancer patients.
Watch Wednesday night’s exciting tiebreaker in the video below.
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