‘Jeopardy!’ New Champ Battled Cancer During Game Show Audition

by Jonathan Howard

How’s this for a great story? The new Jeopardy! champion, Christine Whelchel started her journey with cancer, now she’s cancer-free.

There are all kinds of folks on Jeopardy! Over the years there have been rich and poor, formally educated and self-taught, and Whelchel is adding to that. It was March 2021 when Christine was diagnosed with breast cancer. They wanted to act right away. May comes around and her surgery date is closer and closer. That’s when she finds out.

She finds out that she has a Jeopardy! audition. And, it’s the day before her cancer surgery. Talk about pressure. It was the diagnosis that made her sign up for the show, and now she was going into her first audition right before major surgery. And, here’s the best news… she’s cancer-free now. So, there’s a whole lot to celebrate on top of her game show victory.

“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. And I ended up getting my audition the night before my surgery in May,” she explained on the show.

Of course, Christine couldn’t just let her win be a normal win. She had to take it up a notch. So, it came down to the very end… and then some. Two-day winner Henry Rozycki was a tough competitor. Final Jeopardy! came down to “Play Characters”.

“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 got the questions right, “Willy Loman.” However, that put the players in a tough situation. At least for Rozycki and Whelchel. They tied at $34,000.

‘Jeopardy!’ Goes to Overtime

Now, it hasn’t been often that Jeopardy! has tiebreakers. However, for about the last 8 years, the show has used them. The reason being there was an increase in co-champions that caused all sorts of issues. So, now it is a quick recall final question to settle it all at the end.

The two competitors faced off and were ready for their last questions. Category? Flowers. “After its inclusion in a 1915 poem, this red flower became a symbol of fallen World War I soldiers.” Any good Brit would know this one. But, Whelchel didn’t need to be British at all. “What is poppy?” she answered correctly.

While all of this could have been avoided if she had wagered just one more dollar in the Final Jeopardy! question, it turns out she didn’t need it. She made it by on the skin of her teeth and will now head to another round where she hopes to continue her streak.