Nonbinary Rowan Ward Makes ‘Jeopardy!’ Tournament of Champions
Author: Trudy Ring
Nonbinary contestant Rowan Ward has claimed a spot in the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions with a win in the Second Chance Tournament.
The Tournament of Champions brings together all the top winners of the previous season. This year, for the first time, Jeopardy! reserved two spots in the Tournament of Champions for winners of the Second Chance Tournament, televised over the past two weeks. The competitors in the Second Chance Tournament were those who’d lost to “superchamps,” such as Amy Schneider, Matt Amodio, and Mattea Roach. Ward had lost to Amodio, who amassed a 38-game winning streak in the 2021-2022 season.
Ward, a Chicago-based sportswriter specializing in horse racing, won a semifinal game Wednesday in the Second Chance Tournament, advancing to a two-day final round against Monday and Tuesday’s semifinal winners, law student Jack Weller and interpreter Sadie Goldberger. Ward’s combined winnings from Thursday and Friday amounted to $37,999 to put them in first place.
“I’m so excited,” Ward said in an interview posted on the Jeopardy! website. “This is a dream come true.”
Ward had dominated the Thursday episode, easily finishing first, but Weller came on strong in the Friday game and was leading going into the Final Jeopardy! round. None of the three contestants came up with the correct answer, but Ward had the security of substantial winnings from the Thursday game, so they wagered little, while Weller, knowing he’d have to rack up a significant amount to beat Ward’s two-day total, bet it all and lost it all.
“Jack was matching my buzzer mojo,” Ward said in the interview. “I knew I was in a tough match, and I knew that if I got it wrong and Jack got it right, then Jack would be going to the ToC.”
When Ward was on the show last year, they were not out publicly as nonbinary and competed under a different name. They had expressed some regret about being known under a deadname, but on Wednesday’s episode, they discussed their nonbinary identity. They used their third-place prize of $1,000 from last year to pay for the fees associated with their name change, “and now I’m back on Jeopardy! with a second chance as my true self,” they told host Ken Jennings.
It’s likely they are the first out nonbinary contestant in the Tournament of Champions, which begins Monday. Ward will appear Thursday, competing against Courtney Shah and John Focht in a quarterfinal game. The winners of six quarterfinal games will advance to semifinals, and the winners of three semifinal games will go to the finals.
The Tournament of Champions will have LGBTQ+ representation not only with Ward but with Schneider, who is transgender, and Roach, a lesbian. Schneider, a software engineer from Oakland, Calif., had the longest winning streak of the past season, with 40 games. She is the top-winning woman in the show’s history and the first trans contestant in the Tournament of Champions.
Schneider, Amodio, and Roach will skip the first round of the tournament so others won’t have to face such formidable contestants, and the three of them will compete in an exhibition game set to air November 8.
Watch the Second Chance Tournament two-day finals from this week below.
Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring