‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Explains Final Wager Mistake That Could Have Cost Her Game

Jilana Cotter — 'Jeopardy!'
Jeopardy, Inc.

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the November 6 episode of Jeopardy!]

The last finalist for the Jeopardy! Champions Wildcard has been found. However, the last of the three semifinal games could have easily ended much differently due to the winner’s wager during Final Jeopardy.

Brian Adams, a retired public educator from Big Bear Lake, California, Jilana Cotter, a senior data analyst from Dade City, Florida, and Dave Pai, a field application scientist originally from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania faced off in the November 6 episode, with Jilana just a bit ahead going into the final round. She had $11,500 to Dave’s $11,200, with Brian in third with $5,200.

The clue in “Music & Literature” read: “John Steinbeck called this ‘one of the great songs of the world’ & wanted the music & lyrics printed in one of his novels.” The answer was “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and only Jilana was correct, adding $10,900. She advanced to the finals with a total of $22,400 (and will be facing off against Emily Sands and Aaron Craig). However, if Dave had been right and bet everything, he and Jilana would have been tied.

And over on Reddit, fans picked up on that, with one noting, “There’s no advantage to that wager over the standard cover wager of 10,901, right? I’m assuming she just forgot to add $1 to her wager.”

Jilana herself confirmed that was the case. “Yep, I realized as soon as I tapped the button to finalize my wager that I’d forgotten to add the $1, but it was too late to change then!” she revealed. “I was in agony until Dave’s FJ response was revealed, since if he’d gotten it right we would have gone to a sudden-death tiebreaker (due to my mistake), and I figured there was no way I could beat him on the buzzer. I got very lucky.”

Brian, meanwhile, missed out because he left out the L in “Republic.” A Jeopardy! viewer wondered if Brian intentionally “did the ‘L’ with his hand after that ruling,” and Jilana offered a bit of insight into that moment during the game — and what host Ken Jennings had to re-do.

Brian Adams — 'Jeopardy!'

Jeopardy, Inc.

“I’m sure it was intentional–the judges didn’t notice the missing L the first time, so Ken’s ruling on his response had to be re-taped,” she wrote. “Brian was an amazing sport about all of it–he’s able to laugh at himself with a lot more grace than most of us would manage in that situation. He really is a delight to spend time with, and very smart.”

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