Jack Weller ’11 was a contestant on the beloved show on Friday, Jan. 22 in what turned out to be a rare and wild finish.
About a year ago, Jack took the online test on the show’s website. He says he “mostly forgot about it, and then the pandemic happened so I went through several other rounds virtually in May and October. I got a call in mid-November for my filming date, and drove down to LA to tape. I had grown up watching the show with my family and always loved trivia, and was very pleasantly surprised when all the pieces fell into place this year.”
At the end of Double Jeopardy, Jack was tied with the then-three-day champ Brian Chang for first place; each finished that round with $18,800 to go into the Final Jeopardy round. The category was Statues, and the clue: “Statues honoring this man who was killed in 1779 can be found in Waimea, Kauai & in Whitby, England.” The correct answer was, “Who is Captain Cook?” (British explorer James Cook). Both contestants answered correctly; both had wagered their entire winnings and tied again at $37,600.
For only the third time since “Jeopardy!” adapted their regular game play rules in 2016 (now there can only be one winner), and on only the second day of taping for guest host Ken Jennings, the tie-breaker clue came into play.
According to the show’s website, “If there are two or three players tied for first place after each contestant unveils their Final Jeopardy! response, [the host] will present one more category and read the clue. The clue has no dollar value and does not increase the player’s winnings. The first contestant to buzz in and respond correctly is declared the winner.”
Ken read a clue from the history category. Brian buzzed in first, answered correctly, and emerged the winner. While Jack finished in second place with the $2,000 prize, he notes, “It was an amazing experience! Though my episode ended in an unusual tie-breaker, I feel like I played a good game and made reasonably good bets. For me, it was all about the experience.”
What’s next for Jack? He says, “I'm finishing up my first year of law school at Stanford and looking to work after graduation as a voting rights litigator.”