Despite having her eight-day winning streak broken on Tuesday night, Jeopardy! champion Karen Farrell ’09 is one step closer to competing in the show’s next Tournament of Champions (TOC).
Farrell, who earned an A.B. degree in Politics from the University and now works as a political consultant, quickly emerged as a strong Jeopardy! contestant. In her first appearance on Dec. 26, 2019, she entered the Final Jeopardy! round with a lock game, or “runaway,” and managed to take home $17,200 in the process. Eight games later, she walked away with over $150,000 in winnings.
“One thing you’ve discovered about our champion Karen is that she’s good,” host Alex Trebek said on the show.
This pattern continued as Farrell demonstrated her knowledge and skill with the buzzer over the following days. She averaged 22 correct responses per game, and entered Final Jeopardy! with a runaway in over half of her games.
“It’s just that second of realizing what the scores are, and going, ‘Wait, did this really just happen?’ And then frantically making sure you did the math right for Final Jeopardy! so you don’t make a big mistake,” Farrell said in a promotional video.
Jeopardy! contestants automatically qualify for the TOC upon winning five consecutive games. Farrell, having easily surpassed this requirement, is guaranteed a spot in the next tournament. She is currently ranked third-highest on the Jeopardy! TOC Eligibility Tracker among all players from the current season, behind only 11-day winner Jason Zuffranieri and eight-day champ Jennifer Quail.
“Honestly, it just felt like something I was always meant to do. Being part of the whole world of Jeopardy!, something I’ve been watching my whole life,” Farrell said in an interview after her win.
Farrell’s ninth and final game aired on Tuesday, Jan. 7, and pitted the then-eight-day champion against newcomers Lisa Warne-Magro and David Xia. Warne-Magro, however, built an early lead in the first round of play, and despite neither her nor Farrell answering correctly in Final Jeopardy!, eked out a victory.
Farrell has tentative plans for spending her $159,603 in winnings.
“I have a new daughter. So I’m probably going to put a little bit of it away for her education, maybe buy her a few toys and do some traveling,” she noted during the interview.