‘Jeopardy!’ Contestant Nearly Misses Competing After Suffering From a Sudden Medical Condition

by Jennifer Shea

A “Jeopardy!” contestant narrowly averted a much more serious health scare by going to the hospital to get treatment for chest pains. Unfortunately, the decision almost cost her her spot in the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions.

Jennifer Quail of Dowagiac, Michigan was suffering from chest pain and heartburn prior to her scheduled appearance on “Jeopardy!”. She debated about whether or not to go in for treatment.

“It was so painful, I actually thought it was cardiac or an ulcer or something painful up in the chest but I was really lucky,” Quail told local news station WWMT.

It turned out Quail had a pulmonary embolism, a blockage of pulmonary arteries in the lungs. The condition is often a result of blood clots moving from the veins in the legs or other parts of the body to the lungs. It can be life-threatening if not treated.

West Michigan doctors diagnosed the pulmonary embolism the same week Quail had planned to fly to California for the Tournament of Champions.

‘Jeopardy!’ Contestant Had a Near Miss

In addition to nearly missing “Jeopardy!”, Quail barely escaped a life-threatening episode. Her doctor said he was relieved she decided to come in.

“Jennifer’s case is actually something that is unique because she’s a very healthy individual, doesn’t have past medical conditions,” Dr. Brandon Hooks, a pulmonary disease specialist at Ascension Borgess, told WWMT. “She actually told me she considered not coming to the hospital.”

“Had she not went to the hospital, things could have been catastrophic, unfortunately,” he added.

Had Quail put off going in, she might not have survived to compete in the Tournament of Champions. As it was, she almost missed her flight. But in the end, she made it out to California to compete.

The “Jeopardy!” contestant ultimately came in second in the Tournament of Champions and took home $100,000.

Quail Advises People to Pay Attention to Warning Signs

For her part, Quail recommended paying close attention to warning signs of sudden health downturns and seeking medical attention in such cases.

“I would tell people to listen to your body,” she said. “I could tell that something was wrong, this wasn’t normal pain. This was something serious and I didn’t know what it was at the time.”

Quail’s doctor said Quail’s condition can become very serious. About 25% of patients who suffer from it show up with their heart in bad shape and in need of supplemental oxygen.

After her pulmonary embolism, Quail will now have to check her blood for clots frequently and take preventative medicine every day. But it’s certainly better than dying from the condition.

Meanwhile, fresh off her second-place “Jeopardy!” finish, Quail has big post-pandemic plans. She wants to do lots of traveling as soon as pandemic restrictions lift. Not a bad way to celebrate winning $100,000.