It’s not often on Jeopardy! when a contestant plays the final round alone. When it does happen, the stage takes an eerily serious air, rather than a playfully competitive one. All eyes are on the last standing individual.
This is precisely what happened in an episode of the game show in October 2020. Before reaching Final Jeopardy, competitors Natt Supab and Alex Switzky had a negative balance, disqualifying them for the betting round. That left just Kevin Walsh standing alone across from late host Alex Trebek, who passed a month later. Although much more entertaining with three contestants at the end, the solo performance may have been a blessing in disguise, given the social distancing restrictions at the time.
As the show returned from commercial break, Trebek announced, “The stage looks like a very lonely place right now. I cannot recall the last time we had only one player in Final Jeopardy.”
The category for the final round was “Literary Pronouns,” and the clue was “Thanks to a horror film, this novel returned to the Bestseller Lists in 2017, some thirty years after reaching No. 1.”
Usually, as the famous Jeopardy! tune plays and the seconds count down, the show’s cameras pan from contestant to contestant, showing their pondering faces or expressions of victory. But with only Walsh to focus on, who quickly wrote his response, the allotted time felt more like an awkward pause. Surely, the show is missing something without a full set of contestants.
Of course, Walsh answered the clue correctly with the response, “What is ‘IT,'” awarding him his fourth Jeopardy! win and $18,800 for the game and $81,700 total.
When the show’s Twitter account posted about the special episode, the writers joked, “This clue was so creepy that it made the 2 other contestants mysteriously disappear!” while tagging author Stephen King.
Last Solo Final Jeopardy Was Five Years Before the Latest
According to Inside Edition, the last time the show had a solo Final Jeopardy round was in March 2015. Delaware mom of two, Kristin Sausville, was the only one left after her competitors found themselves in the red.
Trebek at the time joked with Sausville before the round begun, saying, “I think you’re going to win the game.”
The category was “The U.S. Government,” and her clue was “On August 15, 1994, 59 years and 1 day after FDR signed the original act, Bill Clinton made this an independent agency.”
When it was time to reveal the answer, Trebek continued his humorous banter. “Kristin we’re going to start with you. You were in third and in the lead,” the host said.
While Sausville answered the question incorrectly, she walked away with a two-day total of over $30,000. And, more importantly, she had the rare opportunity to talk with Trebek one-on-one.