Jeopardy! Wildcard crown sends Whitby psychiatrist to Tournament of Champions

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Published February 3, 2024 at 12:03 am

Juveria Zaheera - Jeopardy! Wildcard champion

Whitby’s Queen of Jeopardy is off to the Tournament of Champions, beginning February 23, after her crowning victory in Friday’s Champions Wildcard Season 39 competition.

Juveria Zaheer, a psychiatrist and researcher with CAMH and the University of Toronto and mother a of two came out on top in Friday’s final and took home the $100,000 grand prize with a two-day final score of $20,000.

Andy Tirell finished in second two-day final score of $14,800 to earn $50,000; while Michael Menkhus was awarded $25,000 for his third place finish and a two-day final score of $2,799.

“I have had the most wonderful journey,” Zaheer said. “And the players I met today are just extraordinary.”

The deciding game came down to a triple stumper in Final Jeopardy! And while none of the players responded correctly to the clue about army technology, Zaheer was still able to claim victory thanks to clever wagering (she bet zero on the final question) and her performance in the first game of the two-leg final.

Zaheer restarted her Jeopardy journey in December when she returned to the Alex Trebek Stage and won the Second Chance Season 39 competition on the Alex Trebek Stage on Christmas Day.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” she said at the time. “It feels like it’s a dream or it’s happening to someone else.”

In Zaheer’s first game of those finals she set three single-game highs for the season: she earned a Daily Double total of $20,000, had 32 correct responses, and she was the first to finish with a score of more than $50,000.

Even after winning again Friday in the wildcard competition Zaheer is still in shock over her success.

“It sounds fake,” she said of advancing to the Tournament of Champions. “It sounds like I can’t imagine it. What a gift!”

“I lost on Jeopardy on May 8, 2023,” she added on her social media account. “Two competitions and seven games later, I’m headed to the Tournament of Champions. It’s an unlikely story and I’m still waiting to wake up from this dream. Thank you for all of your love and support on this journey.”

Zaheer could face off in the Tournament of Champions against Hannah Wilson, the eight-game champion who defeated her during her initial appearance on the show last year.

Zaheer relishes the opportunity and said she has nothing but respect for Wilson.

“To get to meet Hannah again…it’s just like a second chance in so many different ways,” she said. “After I lost I went and sat with my brother near Hannah’s wife (and) she was so supportive,” Zaheer recalled. “She was like, ‘You gave Hannah such a great game. I haven’t seen her look nervous before on stage.’”

While Zaheer said she is looking forward to competing in the Tournament of Champions and meeting fellow Canadian champions like Toronto’s Ray Lalonde, one of the best parts of her experience so far has been the reaction she has gotten from her loved ones about her success on the show.

“As a woman, especially a woman of color, as a mom, as someone who is maybe not a typical Jeopardy champion, I had so many people say to me ‘My daughters watched you, and my sons watched you,” she said. “I’m so surprised every time… but it’s a pretty good feeling.”

The CAMH Medical Head, university Associate Professor and suicide prevention researcher has done a lot charming her fans, friends and colleagues along the way as well – as well as winning.

She has also earned praise from all corners, including a celebratory message from Whitby Mayor Elizabeth Roy after Friday’s win.

“Whitby proud! Congratulations on another big win! Looking forward to the next round of Jeopardy!”

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