‘Jeopardy!’ champ reveals she endured breast cancer battle while auditioning for the show 

Wednesday night’s episode of “Jeopardy!” shocked fans as the game ended with a very rare and thrilling tiebreaker, eventually leading to the win of Christine Whelchel.

Whelchel has plenty of reasons to celebrate aside from being declared the new “Jeopardy!” champ. She revealed to Ken Jennings that she had been fighting breast cancer since the time she applied for the show. She is now in remission.

“I was diagnosed in March of 2021, and one of the first things I did a couple of weeks after being diagnosed was take the “Jeopardy!” test,” Whelchel detailed her journey. “And I ended up getting my audition the night before my surgery in May.”


“Well, evidently the audition went well,” said Jennings. “You’re here. And I wish the surgery goes well. [went well] too.”

“Everything else went well and I’m cancer-free as of right now,” Whelchel replied, prompting the studio audience to applaud the good news.

The official “Jeopardy!” Twitter account shared a clip of the conversation with the caption: “Cancer-free and now on Jeopardy! Congratulations, Christine.”

Wheschel’s win proved to be dramatic as she found herself in a rare tiebreaker event with two-day champ Henry Rozycki.

Jeopardy! contestants during the show

During the Final “Jeopardy!” round, under the category “Play Characters,” the opponents were given this clue: “A 1949 review noted the ‘wrong formulas for success’ of this character & ‘fatal misconceptions about his place in the scheme of things.’”

All three contestants gave the right answer, “Willy Loman.” Third-placer Patrick Byrnett wagered his entire $8,800 total and ended up with $17,600.

Rozycki was a professor and doctor who doubled his cash income and raised his final score to $34,000. Whelchel had to reveal if she had wagered enough to win the $19,000.

Ken Jennings hosting an episode of Jeopardy!

Jennings pointed out that Whelchel had to have $1 more than Rozycki in order to be crowned champion. She also placed a $15,000 bet, bringing her total to $34,000.

This event would for many years result in the co-champions being named. They will appear again in the next episode. Jennings explained that the show changed this rule in 2016 to allow for a tiebreaker round.

“I’m going to reveal a category, and then read you a single clue,” said Jennings, the most successful “Jeopardy!” contestant of all time. “The first player to ring in with a correct response is our new Jeopardy! champion. Simple.”

Ken Jennings hosting an episode of Jeopardy!

It’s a quick and fun way to extract a single winner, while also adding to the viewers’ excitement.

Jennings announced that the two contestants would have to face off in an extraordinary tiebreaker round, saying that the first player to buzz in with the correct answer would be declared the day’s winner.

In the category “Flowers,” Jennings read the clue: “After its inclusion in a 1915 poem, this red flower became a symbol of fallen World War I soldiers.”

Whelchel buzzed in first and chimed in with the correct response, “Poppy,” prompting Jennings to declare: “Christine, you are our new Jeopardy! champion! Cancer-free, $34,000 better. Congratulations! What a victory!”

There have been four ties before this, but this is only the second time in the show’s history that an unusual wager amount resulted in a tiebreaker.

Christine Whelchel on Jeopardy!

Many fans took to Twitter to express their excitement for the event.

“In all my years of watching #jeopardy I’ve never seen a tie till tonight,” a viewer said on Twitter.

“Oh my GOD there’s a TIE on Jeopardy that was exhilarating,” another wrote.

On a recent episode of the quiz show Christine appeared on the show without her wig — hair loss is a common adverse effect of chemo treatments. She stated that she hopes to normalize how cancer patients’ recovery looks. 

Christine Whelchel showing her appearance after breast cancer treatments

Watch Wednesday night’s exciting tiebreaker in the video below.

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