The University of Iowa

UI Jeopardy! Champion returns for Tournament

November 11th, 2014
Sarah McNitt and Alex Trebek
Jeopardy! champion Sarah McNitt, pictured with host Alex Trebek, returns Thursday for the Tournament of Champions semi-finals. Photo courtesy of Jeopardy!

After winning five consecutive games and $89,398 in winnings last year, University of Iowa study abroad advisor Sarah McNitt will return to the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions this Thursday, November 13, to continue her trivia reign.

The program will air at 4 p.m. CST on KWWL. Check your local listings to catch Sarah in action.

The Tournament of Champions, which runs November 10-21, features 15 former Jeopardy! champions competing for a grand prize of $250,000. After watching the other players compete during the regular season and getting to “know” them through the television, Sarah was excited to return to the show and meet the champions in person.

“There was a lot more pressure the second time around, because I did better on the show than I’d ever imagined and I now knew what it was like to have millions of eyes on me,” she said.

Sarah prepared for the tournament mostly the same way she prepared for the original games: by studying books and lists of trivia. This time she added in Jeopardy! wagering strategy, specifically tournament wagering strategy, which she says can be a little different from regular game play.

Jeopardy! champions prepare for the show

Sarah and the other champions prepare for the show with help from the Jeopardy! stage manager. Photo courtesy of Jeopardy!

Her best strategy to prepare for competition was watching lots and lots of Jeopardy! shows.

“You can start to get into the writers’ heads a little and figure out what their favorite topics are, or find the hints that can help you figure out a clue you don’t know,” she said.

Sarah has used some of her winnings from regular Jeopardy! play to support causes in memory of her mother, who passed away from leukemia two weeks before Sarah taped her original episodes. She made donations in memory of her mother, sponsored a blood and bone marrow drive in September with the DeGowin Blood Center and the UI’s Marrow Donor Program, and participated in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night campaign.

“[My mother] was a big Jeopardy! fan and I know she would have been so happy to see me play,” Sarah said.

Sarah was also able to participate in a humor writing workshop at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, which she says she probably wouldn’t have done without the extra money. In addition, she and her husband Jason hope to finally take a honeymoon next summer in Ireland.

Although we don’t yet know how far Sarah advanced in the tournament, as winners have to keep mum until their episodes air, Sarah said it was just great to be back competing in the game she loves.

“Playing Jeopardy! is so much fun, and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to do it again.”

Anyone in the Iowa City area is invited to join Sarah and friends for a viewing party at Quinton’s Bar & Deli, 215 E Washington St, Iowa City, on Thursday at 4 p.m.