This year’s “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions has a winner.
The 10-day trivia battle ended Friday with Minnesota substitute teacher Sam Kavanaugh taking home the $250,000 first-place prize. Jennifer Quail, a wine-tasting consultant from Michigan, won $100,000 for finishing second, and Veronica Vichit-Vadakan, a reference and instruction librarian from Oregon, took $50,000 for coming in third.
All-star former player Buzzy Cohen, who won 2017’s champions tournament, hosted the competition, which aired May 17-28 and featured 15 top winners.
A matching donation of the $250,000 grand prize will be made to Hope of the Valley Trebek Center for the Homeless in honor of beloved longtime host Alex Trebek, who died in November following a Stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis. According to a “Jeopardy!” press release, the center will assist up to 300 people per year with shelter, intensive care management, mental health services, job training and substance abuse counseling, among other services.
Cohen made his first “Jeopardy!” appearance in 2016, winning $164,603 over nine games. After his 2017 Tournament of Champions win, he returned in 2019 as team captain for the show’s All-Star Games.
The Tournament of Champions field included contestants who had won the most games between the most recent champions tournament in November 2019, won by James Holzhauer, and the end of 2020, as well as the most recent Teachers Tournament and College Championship winners.
Mayim Bialik, star of “The Big Bang Theory” and Fox sitcom “Call Me Kat,” takes her shot at hosting May 31-June 11. Past guest hosts include Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, all-time champ Ken Jennings, journalist Katie Couric and talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Contributing: Bill Keveney