Celebrity Jeopardy ends with three-way dogfight

… and the main game gives us a very strange Final Jeopardy category

Published January 28, 2024

Welcome back to my weekly rundown from the world of Jeopardy!

This week featured the last five quarterfinals of Winter 2024 Champions Wildcard’s Group 1, with the Celebrity Jeopardy final airing on Tuesday evening.

Each heading contains a link to my daily write-up over at The Jeopardy! Fan

Champions Wildcard Group 1, Quarterfinal #5, Monday, Jan. 22

Daniel Moore got off to a hot start in Monday’s quarterfinal, picking up 14 correct responses in the opening round. However, his buzzer timing fell off in Double Jeopardy, allowing Ron Cheung and Holly Hassel to get back into contention; Ron landed a pair of Daily Doubles for a combined $8,000 to take a slim $800 lead going into Final Jeopardy.

“Presidents & Vice Presidents” was that category: The first Vice President & the first President not born in one of the original 13 states were both born in this state. Unfortunately, nobody could come up with Lincoln’s birthplace of Kentucky. Holly and Daniel went with Tennessee, and both bet too much; Ron advanced to the semis with a score of just $1,5991

Quarterfinal #6, Tuesday, Jan. 23

Xanni Brown picked up where she left off after winning Second Chance, with 14 correct responses and a $3,400 Daily Double contributing to a commanding lead after the first round. But Robbi Ramirez came storming back: Buoyed by four correct $2,000 responses and Xanni’s Daily Double miss, even his own $5,800 Daily Double miss didn’t keep Robbi from taking the lead going into Final.

That 61st clue was in U.S. Business Founders: A 1934 note to him: “Received hunting clothes… and thank you for those wonderful shoes they fit perfect… your friend, Babe Ruth.” Both Robbi and Lynn De Vito named famous Maine outdoor retailer L.L. Bean, and Robbi became the sixth semifinalist.

Quarterfinal #7, Wednesday, Jan. 24

Wednesday was pretty much the Lloyd Sy show: over the course of the game, he buzzed in an astounding 81% of the time. Only the Daily Doubles kept Lloyd from runaway territory, as Dillon Hupp picked up $5,000 midway through Double Jeopardy. Needless to say, Kelly Barry was in a distant third and out of contention.

The final hurdle in this one was in 1980s Movie Characters: Oliver Stone, screenwriter of this 1983 movie, named its main character to honor the Super Bowl-winning QB from 1982. Did you know Scarface’s Tony Montana was named for Joe Montana? The players didn’t, but Lloyd bet smart to move on to next week’s games.

Quarterfinal #8, Thursday, Jan. 25

The two Daily Doubles in Double Jeopardy proved crucial in this one: despite Connor Sears’s better day in terms of correct responses, it was Alec Chao who led going into Final Jeopardy, thanks to picking up $2,400 on a Daily Double (and Connor losing $2,000 on his); Johanna Stoberock stayed within plausible striking distance of both.

Thursday’s players dealt with Classic Literature in Final: An intended sequel to this 1869 work centered on the Decembrists, a group of veterans who largely served in the Napoleonic Wars. Only Alec went to the right country, going for the Russian classic War and Peace, advancing to next week’s semifinals.

Quarterfinal #9, Friday, Jan. 26

On an early Daily Double in Friday’s last quarterfinal, Michael Menkhus took a lead on Friday that he would not relinquish; his 72% success rate on the buzzer certainly frustrated Tamara Ghattas and Ittai Sopher. While Tamara made a valiant attempt at playing catch-up, a $7,000 Daily Double miss knocked her out of contention as Michael locked up the game before Final Jeopardy.

The writers brought one out of left field in this Final Jeopardy, in the category “Leading Ladies: Next In Line.” Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, her. They’d named the female leads in the first three A Star Is Born films; only Ittai correctly named the fourth, Lady Gaga. Michael’s runaway made this moot; he’ll play next week. 

Celebrity Jeopardy!, Final, Tuesday, Jan. 23

From September’s start with 27 celebrities, we began Tuesday night with just three left: Mo Rocca (CBS Sunday Morning), Lisa Ann Walter (The Parent Trap & Abbott Elementary), and sports commentator Katie Nolan.

Interestingly, at least for those fans who like to get into the weeds, Jeopardy! posted the view from the Electronic Lockout Verification Information System, showing the buzzer attempts on the opening clues of the final.

Mo got off to the best start, picking up 10 correct responses in the opening round to hold a slim lead over Lisa Ann, with Katie in third–but all separated by just $700.

Despite hitting a Daily Double, Mo started to struggle on the buzzer in Double Jeopardy, getting in just 39% of the time. Katie was the biggest beneficiary, jumping from last to first with $8,100–still just $2,100 ahead of third-place Lisa Ann.

Lisa Ann and Katie converted the first two Daily Doubles very early in Triple Jeopardy, but as Katie’s buzzer timing kept getting better (she got in on 80% of her attempts), the last Daily Double stayed hidden. With Mo in a distant third with four clues to go, and still struggling to get in, he finally hit it, and went for a dramatic True Daily Double–which he got, giving him the lead going into Final Jeopardy.

That Final Jeopardy was in Literary Clichés: Many mystery fans blame “The Door,” a 1930 Mary Roberts Rinehart novel in which a servant kills a nurse, for this 4-word cliché. Lisa Ann’s response–”The butler did it”–was revealed first, and was correct. Playing from third place, she just needed Katie and Mo to miss it… and they obliged. Lisa Ann won the $1,000,000 first prize for the Entertainment Community Fund, while Mo’s charity, the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, got $250,000 for second and Katie’s, the Association for Women in Sports Media, will get $100,000 for her third-place finish.

One hitch: A promo for Tuesday night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live aired during the episode, revealing that Lisa Ann would be Kimmel’s guest. For astute and (rightly) peeved Jeopardy! fans, this was an inadvertent spoiler for the game they were watching.

Other notes from the week

  • U.K. Jeopardy! wrapped up its first series. Emma Laslett extended her win streak to three games, while Dean Strachan won one and Archi Campbell won the last two games (and £7,200). No word yet as to ITV’s future plans for the show.
  • Next week features the semifinals and finals of Group 1 of Winter 2024’s Champions Wildcard, with the winner on Friday getting the penultimate spot in the Tournament of Champions. Then, the Play-In Game for Group 2 will stream Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern, on TuneIn Radio.
  1. Who was the first Vice-President born outside of the original 13 states? Thankfully, it doesn’t actually matter. While Richard Mentor Johnson was born in what is now Louisville, it was also still part of Virginia at that point. Regardless, if Johnson isn’t counted, the first would be John C. Breckinridge, who was born in Lexington in 1821.

Andy Saunders covers Jeopardy! daily as site administrator for The Jeopardy! Fan. He is also a founding archivist of The J! Archive. His weekly recap appears at Questionist every Sunday.