‘Jeopardy!’ Tournament of Champions: Sam Kavanaugh Takes Victory

by Joe Rutland

Sam Kavanaugh captured the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions on Friday, beating out Veronica Vichit-Vadakan and Jennifer Quail.

In the first “Tournament of Champions” held since the death of longtime host Alex Trebek, Kavanaugh emerged victorious from a field of 15 fellow champions.

Entering Friday’s competition, Kavanaugh won $38,000 on Thursday. That’s compared to Quail’s $14,500 and Vichit-Vadakan’s $6,400 totals.

As they were in the final round, all three sat down for a “Jeopardy!” interview. Kavanaugh offered his thoughts on his opponents.

“It’s funny, Jennifer,” Kavanaugh said. “After your first game, I remember watching that game, and just seeing you with a huge runaway and a huge bet, and just thinking, ‘Oh no. I might have to play her.’ And then same with Veronica.

“In your fourth game, I think, you had quite a big runaway,” he said. “And like, with a runaway, that’s betting real money, and there’s no reason Veronica needed to bet. And she just threw like 10,000 on the table. There’s a lot of guts there…”

Kavanaugh is a teacher who is originally from Carlton, Minn. Quail is a wine tasting consultant from Dowagiac, Mich. Vichit-Vadakan is a librarian from Portland, Ore.

‘Jeopardy’ Champion Buzzy Cohen Ends Time Behind Podium For Now

This year’s “Tournament of Champions” was hosted by Buzzy Cohen, who is a previous tournament winner. Cohen also was a guest host for “Jeopardy!” during this past season, too.

Cohen, as Friday’s “Jeopardy!” episode was approaching, realized his time on the popular game show might be closing.

“Tonight may be my last time on the @Jeopardy stage,” Cohen wrote on Twitter. “But what an honor to be part of a show I love so deeply – and this tournament and these champions have made it an absolute joy.”

One thing that has made this year’s “Tournament of Champions” even better has been the champions honoring Trebek with their efforts.

Big Question Ahead For Show Producers Is Who Will Be Permanent Host

There is little doubt “Jeopardy!” players, guests hosts, and fans miss Trebek, who died of pancreatic cancer in November 2020. No permanent replacement has been named as the host rotation has been busy throughout the season.

Some fans would like to see former “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings take over. Others have been vocal about Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a “Celebrity Jeopardy!” champion himself, fill that spot. Then there’s been the petition drive to have former “Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton become the permanent host.

Who will be filling the slot behind the “Jeopardy!” podium on a full-time basis? That’s the big question ahead after this year’s “Tournament of Champions” is now complete.