Jeopardy!’s Juveria Zaheer wins Champions Wildcard despite major misstep as fans fear for Tournament of Champions rivals

Jeopardy! star Juveria Zaheer has snatched the Champions Wildcard title on Friday, sparking major speculation for Tournament of Champions domination.

Despite a major setback in game one of the finale, Juveria beat Andy Tirrell and Michael Menkhus, pocketing a hard-fought $100,000 and a ToC ticket.

Juveria won the Jeopardy!'s Champions Wildcard mini-tournament cementing her icon status

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Juveria won the Jeopardy!’s Champions Wildcard mini-tournament cementing her icon statusCredit: ABC
Fans think she's 'coming for' the big winners in Ken Jennings' 2024 Tournament of Champions

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Fans think she’s ‘coming for’ the big winners in Ken Jennings’ 2024 Tournament of ChampionsCredit: ABC

Season 40’s biggest standout star sealed the deal in game two of the Champions Wildcard finals on Friday, February 2.

She entered with a rollover score of 20,000, Andy 14,400, and Michael 0.

Juveria, however, suffered a huge slip-up in game one– she dropped 14,000 on Final Jeopardy when she could have kept her massive score.

She instead entered the nail-biting deciding match with a lead but not a commanding one, which Ken Jennings admitted was a “big score shift.”

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Nonetheless, she came out swinging as usual, and after the Jeopardy! round, had 6,200 (despite a Daily Double miss), Andy 2,000, and Michael 2,800.

In Double Jeopardy!, her opponents went all-in on the remaining Daily Doubles, but with another eight correct responses, she secured an overall runaway despite not having the lead.

Final Jeopardy! under ARMY TECHNOLOGY read: “Bearing the name of a man who died in Iowa in 1838, these began service in 1979 & today number in the thousands.”

No one came up with “Black Hawk Helicopters,” and Juveria won it all with a score of 11,800 and a combined 31,800, looking overjoyed.

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Andy finished with 4400 and a combined 14,800, earning a $50,000 second place consolation prize.

Michael finished with 2,799, earning a $25,000 consolation prize.

Fans flooded social media, thrilled for the comeback queen, who had to win two past-player tournaments and a greuling eight matches to get into February’s ToC.

‘STONE COLD ASSASSIN’

One Reddit user wrote: “I am thrilled for Juveria! Love that she had to overcome two tournaments to get to where she is.”

Another wrote: “Juveria is so good, wow, Lock game after lock game in these tournaments, so excited to see her partake in the ToC!!”

A third wrote: “She did it!!!!!” and a fourth: “She will not be an easy matchup in the Tournament of Champions given how unstoppable she was.

A fifth critic wrote: “She’s going to run into a brick wall with Chris Panullo tho.”

A sixth fan wrote: “ToC participants are officially on notice: Juveria is coming for you, and she’s a stone-cold trivia assassin.”

An additional fan commented: “Juveria has nerves of steel. On a side note, I’m starting to get tournament fatigue. Looking forward to getting back to the standard J! format.”

JUVERIA’S GRUELING JEOPARDY! JOURNEY

The Whitby, Ontario Psychiatrist is a mother of two daughters and the oldest of three siblings; her brother was a strategic standout on Survivor Season 42.

She initially arrived at Jeopardy! only to lose to eight-day fan-favorite Hannah Wilson last May, who will also be in the ToC.

Juveria returned earlier this season for a Second Chance contest for Season 39 non-winners with a vengeance, amassing a demoralizing $52,100 in just one match.

She became the fourth woman to break $50,000 in a single game of Jeopardy! and is the only Canadian to ever do so – her win there propelled her to Wildcard.

Having to win four games in Second Chance and then four games in Wildcard may be the most victories anyone’s ever had to earn to get into a Tournament of Champions.

She’s now consecutively won eight matches (the same as Hannah Wilson), and a rematch in the ToC is likely.

The month-long Wildcard clash, which will now reset for its second group, is the last mini-tournament before the ToC finally premiers on February 23, 2024.

TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS COUNTDOWN

After a scrambled Season 40 of Jeopardy! that’s consisted of seemingly endless “Wildcards” and “Second Chances” (some due to the WGA strike); the touchstone $250,000 tournament should be one for the books.

However, unlike the 2022 ToC, which featured stars like Amy Schneider and Mattea Roach, this year’s is all about settling the score.

There’s 21-day winner Cris Pannullo, the pro poker player who amassed the fifth regular play earnings in history ($748K) last fall.

The second seed is Canadian TV set designer Ray LaLonde (who went a stunning 12/14 on Final Jeopardy).

Then there’s Ben Chan, the fan-favorite who won all nine of his victories in runaways until that controversial Benedict Final Jeopardy ruling.

There’s also the beloved Wilson, whose run was ended by none other than Chan due to a co-returning-champions rarity match when the latter fell ill mid-streak.

Another major storyline is the battle of trivia bigwigs – six-day champ Troy Meyer, the top-ranked player in the invite-only online competition Learned League, is returning.

As are all three-day winners – including another pro quizzer, the infamous Yogesh Raut – who missed overlapping with Troy by just a few episodes (and trashed Jeopardy! online after losing).

Counting last year’s Celebrity Jeopardy! winner Ike Barenholtz, there will be 27 competitors in total, the largest contestant field ever.

Since champs like Chan and Wilson lost in “sliding door” fashions, it’s truly anyone’s game.

“A lot of people probably could have won 10 or more games this year, when you think about how they lost,” Pannullo said on the podcast Inside Jeopardy!

“Hannah ran into Ben. Ben lost by misspelling a single letter.”

“They all went out in a way that- Jeopardy! is a minefield, and you never know when you’ll step on that mine.”

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Regular non-tournament episodes of Jeopardy! return in April, a major break from the norm, which has divided fans.

Speaking of shakeups, former champ Ken is now the sole host after Mayim Bialik was fired from the syndicated series in December.

Juveria made an unwarranted Final Jeopardy move in game one as fans reacted: 'Why the hell did she wager 14,000, and 'I don't understand'

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Juveria made an unwarranted Final Jeopardy move in game one as fans reacted: ‘Why the hell did she wager 14,000, and ‘I don’t understand’Credit: ABC
However, she seemed to know what she was doing and won the two-part finale, her eighth consecutive tournament win

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However, she seemed to know what she was doing and won the two-part finale, her eighth consecutive tournament win
Fans were thrilled, reacting: 'She did it!' and 'She will not be an easy matchup in the Tournament of Champions'

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Fans were thrilled, reacting: ‘She did it!’ and ‘She will not be an easy matchup in the Tournament of Champions’

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