The beloved show Jeopardy! is back with another special tournament that keeps fans at the edge of their seats, rooting for their favorite stars. As a Jeopardy! lover myself, I was more than excited when I heard that Celebrity Jeopardy! would be back for another season, with 27 new celebrities playing for charities near and dear to their heart. A Jeopardy! special that debuted on October 26, 1992, Celebrity Jeopardy! follows the fight of singers, actors, actresses, athletes, and television hosts (to name a few) to the finale, in hopes of raising one million dollars for their chosen charity. But unlike previous seasons of this special tournament, Celebrity Jeopardy! finds itself in a one-hour primetime slot every Sunday (rather than the normal 7:00 pm slot each day of the week), with changes to gameplay that have never been done before.
The (NEW) Format:
The special tournament, previously hosted by the late Alex Trebek, is now being led by none other than Mayim Bialik, who is splitting hosting duties with Jeopardy! alum Ken Jennings. Bialik, who has taken over hosting all special tournaments of the show, did an excellent job facilitating conversation between the 18 celebrities that have appeared thus far (nine more to go). Bialik plays into their witty banter and endless laughter while providing small commentary before commercial breaks that help sum up each round of the episode.
The tournament this year is slightly different than the previous Celebrity Jeopardy! seasons. This season watches 27 stars compete in three quarter-final rounds. The winners of each of the quarter-final games will compete in three semi-final games, where the winners of each with play for one million dollars for their chosen charities in the finale. In addition to the “Jeopardy!” round, which consists of clues ranging from $100 to $500 and one daily double, and “Double Jeopardy!” where clue values are doubled and there are two hidden daily doubles, the games this season includes a “Triple Jeopardy” round. In this never-before-seen round, all clue values are tripled ($300 to $1500), and contestants are given three opportunities to find a hidden daily double clue to gain an advantage over their celebrity opponents. While the winners of each game advance to the next, the losers of each still leave with money donated to their charity. Those going home in the quarterfinals leave with $30,000, while those who leave in the semi-finals take $50,000.
Alongside an extra round of trivia to keep fans on the edge of their seats, “Triple Jeopardy!” features a category where previous Jeopardy! champions present the clues. Champions include Ken Jennings, Matt Amodio, Austin Rogers, Buzzy Cohen, Brad Rutter, and so many others to come in future episodes. Each of these previous stars shares clues about topics important to them, with Matt Amodio presenting clues on Computer Science (a topic in which he is pursuing a Ph.D.) and Austin Rogers presenting clues on alcoholic beverages (as a professional bartender). These categories add a video clue aspect to the game and also allow fans to learn more about Jeopardy! idols that they adore.
“And the categories are Bright Stars, Tough Clues, and One Million Dollars for Charity.”Celebrity Jeopardy! (@celebrityjeopardyabc) • Instagram photos and videos
A large part of the tournament involves bringing awareness to different charities that each of the celebrity contestants chose to represent. This season brought light to charities affecting all facets of life, such as “Stop AAPI Hate” (represented by Simu Liu), Asian Mental Health Collective (Constance Wu), War Child (Troian Bellisario), Oscar’s Kids (Melissa Rauch), and so many other organizations. In every episode, Bialik does an excellent job asking each contestant not only to say the name of the charity they are playing for but also what that charity brings awareness to and why that charity is important to them. With these questions come experiences and stories that let fans learn more about the stars we are used to seeing on TV, as well as learn more about the causes that need donations and assistance.
The stories behind the charities help bring meaning to this tournament because each star is playing to raise awareness and help these organizations flourish. Simu Liu has been an advocate for hate crimes against Asian Americans throughout his acting career. In an article he wrote, he explains how these crimes are similar to a “virus” that “finds a host, and replicates.” According to the Stop AAPI Hate website that tracks the violence against Asian Americans, there were close to “2,800 reported cases of racism and discrimination between March 19 and Dec. 31 of last year.” As an actor within the community affected by these crimes, he uses his voice, as well as the platform of this tournament to bring forward an organization that he has worked with.
Similarly, Iliza Shlesinger explained how her cousin was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, which is why she chose to represent the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation during her time on Celebrity Jeopardy! The foundation is a non-profit organization that is trying to find the root cause of CF to work towards the goal of delivering treatments to all patients “no matter their mutation.” Shlesinger mentioned that she takes every opportunity she can to give money and donate to this foundation, especially because it affects someone near and dear to her heart.
Melissa Rauch chose to share a story of a mother’s love that inspired her to help co-found a charity known as Oscar’s Kids. Yavanna Keogh and her husband Lar shared their mission with Rauch: packing a “lifetime of memories into what was almost guaranteed to be a young life cut short,” as their son Oscar was diagnosed with an aggressive form of pediatric cancer at a young age. The organization aims to discover new and improved ways of helping and curing children diagnosed with all types of cancer. Childhood cancer research, while largely important, is “massively underfunded around the world.” Through this tournament, Rauch was able to bring attention and awareness to her charity, while helping in any way she can by having the proceeds of being a contestant go towards finding a cure.
While these are only a few of the plethora of stories shared by the contestants, this season of Celebrity Jeopardy! found a way to bring laughter and excitement, with fans rooting for their favorite actors and comedians, while also bringing to light organizations whose mission is to create a better and safer life for all people.
As a whole, Celebrity Jeopardy! is just what we need to lift our spirits at the end of a long week. Seeing the excitement on stars such as Hasan Manaj’s and Wil Wheaton’s faces each and every time they buzzed in and answered correctly put smiles on my face, as well as fans around the world. Each star this season also has some fond memory associated with the game show, which helped show their admiration and excitement to answer clues and just be a part of its legacy. With three quarter-final games, and one semi-final game left, I am excited to see who will join Ike Barinholtz and Wil Wheaton in the finale. I guess all we can do now is wait and see.