‘Jeopardy!’ Contestant Was Shocked After Working Past a Negative Balance To Win

by Caitlin Berard

The basic premise of Jeopardy! is the same every night and has been for decades: three competitors answer clues in the form of a question. Each clue is worth a specific dollar amount, and the contestant with the highest score at the end wins.

That said, anyone who’s seen more than an episode or two knows that the game show can be deceptively suspenseful. A contestant who demolishes their competition in the early game can lose with a single wrong move. On the flip side, a contestant who struggles to find their footing at the beginning of an episode can find their way to becoming champion by the end.

The July 18 episode of Jeopardy! was a particularly exciting one. Not only did it feature the long-awaited return of host Ken Jennings but it included a shocking comeback and a tiebreaker! The game had so many twists and turns, in fact, that even Ken Jennings and the contestants themselves admitted it was a bit of a rollercoaster when it was all said and done.

William Chou Crowned ‘Jeopardy!’ Champion After Escaping a Negative Score

The three contestants included returning 3-day champion Emily Fiasco and two newcomers, William Chou and Erica Weiner-Amachi. After the first 15 clues, it appeared that Emily might be on her way to victory number 4, as she hadn’t given a single incorrect answer.

Erica was giving a strong performance as well, but William was struggling. With only a single correct answer to his name, it wasn’t looking good for the research fellow from Texas. Going into Double Jeopardy, William had just $400 in his bank, while Erica and Emily had $3,200 and $2,600, respectively.

It was during this round that William began to turn things around, giving 12 correct responses and increasing his score to $8,800. It wasn’t enough to catch up to Erica, however, who had pulled away from her competition, leading with $11,600.

Then came Final Jeopardy, and what had already been a tense episode turned into an exceptionally dramatic one. All three contestants gave the correct response in FJ – “What is Waiting for Godot?” – putting their final scores within one dollar of each other.

Emily had $15,600, while both William and Erica finished with $15,601. The matching scores led to the first tiebreaker in five months! William Chou got the tiebreaker correct, taking the crown from Emily Fiasco.

Following the exciting competition, Ken Jennings and William discussed his unbelievable recovery. “Yeah, I mean, I was negative for quite a bit,” William said. “I was like, come on. Don’t embarrass myself. Don’t embarrass myself. Come on. Just be respectable. Be within range.”