‘Jeopardy!’ Unveils the Finalists of Buzzy Cohen’s ‘Tournament of Champions’

by Emily Morgan

Three “Jeopardy!” veterans are heading to the final round of the show’s Tournament of Champions. With guest Buzzy Cohen at the helm, fans will get to see Sam Kavanaugh, Veronica Vichit-Vadakan, and Jennifer Quail go head-to-head with one another for the final win. The two-day contest will air at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday on ABC.

The finals, which will award $250,000 to the winner, will be hosted by Buzzy Cohen, who won the 2017 Tournament of Champions.

Minneapolis-based substitute teacher, Sam Kavanaugh, will compete in the finals of the annual tournament. As a 2013 Carleton College graduate, Kavanaugh qualified for the game by going on a five-day winning streak in 2019, in which he won more than $156,000 during his run.

Veronica Vichit-Vadakan, a librarian from Portland, Ore., played in the Tournament of Champions quarterfinals on May 21. Vichit-Vadakan got off to a strong start, but Kavanaugh had the correct answer and won the game.

However, Vichit-Vadakan was fortunate to win enough money in her second-place finish to advance to the semi-finals as a Wild Card contestant. Now, she’s looking to come back even stronger during her final “Jeopardy” run as she plays in the tournament’s finals.

Jennifer Quail, a wine tasting consultant from Dowagiac, Mich., won $228,800 during her eight-game run in December 2019. Her winnings made her the second-most successful female contestant ever in the show’s history.

During the quarterfinals, things got off to an unfortunate and unlucky start for Quail. Early on in the game, she was in the red by $200 when she landed on the only Daily Double. Thankfully, she wagered the $1,000 maximum and answered the clue correctly.

After the end of the round, it was a very close and competitive game. Jason Zuffranieri, a math teacher from Albuquerque, N.M., was in first with $4,800. Quail was right behind him with $4,200, and Nibir Sarma, a student at the University of Minnesota, had $3,400.

Former ‘Jeopardy!’ Contestant’s Controversial Reaction

It may be all smiles for the contestants who moved on to the finals, yet for one losing contestant, they couldn’t help but show their disappointment.

During night 2 of the semi-finals, viewers couldn’t help but notice Ryan Bilger’s sore loser moment that followed Final Jeopardy. In the category about “Nobel-winning Authors,” Bilger answered correctly and wagered enough to beat out his biggest rival of the round, Veronica Vichit-Vadanka’s $16,000 by just two dollars.

However, little did Bilger know, Vichit-Vadanka wagered $15,400 in Final Jeopardy. When she answered correctly, her final total far surpassed Bilger’s. His disappointment was evident as he looked down and offered a weak round of applause to Vichit-Vadanka. He also failed to congratulate her.

Since the episode aired, Bilger tweeted out the video of Final Jeopardy, writing: “Veronica played a brilliant game and is an amazing human to boot! Big congratulations to her on the win, and make sure to tune in Thursday and Friday to watch her again in the finals!”