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Jeopardy! fans ‘feel bad’ for contestant after brutal back-to-back blows from host Mayim Bialik during tense new game

Jeopardy! fans ‘feel bad’ for contestant after brutal back-to-back blows from host Mayim Bialik during tense new game

JEOPARDY! viewers were left feeling terribly for a contestant after she was deemed incorrect in two brutal instances.

College junior Stephanie Pierson just slightly mispronounced the names involved in both clues during Mayim Bialik’s High School Reunion Tournament.

ABCMayim Bialik is hosting the three-week-long High School Reunion Tournament[/caption]

ABCStephanie Pierson lost after mispronouncing Greta Thunberg as ‘Thurnberg’ and astronaut Katherine Johnson as ‘Kathleen’[/caption]

Mayim, 47 is hosting the 14-episode High School Reunion Tournament which ends on Thursday.

27 former Teen Tournament contestants who first duked it out in 2018 and 2019 have competed and tonight’s game was the second episode of three semi-finals.

Stephanie, a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill from Macon, Georgia faced Justin Bolsen, a freshman at Brown University from Canton, Georgia, and Claire Sattler, a senior at Yale University from Bonita Springs, Florida.

Justin prevailed with $6.39K and will join Jackson Jones and one other top student decided tomorrow – in the finals.

The finalists will face off for $100,000 and a slot in the 2023 Tournament of Champions.

Tonight, the contestants having advanced from the first round had scores that were about as high as morale online – things didn’t play out as expected.

Claire, who won her original 2018 Teen Tournament, struggled through much of the game – and Stephanie lost out on two mispronounced responses that hurt to watch.


The first tough ruling was near the tail end of Double Jeopardy! – Stephanie led with $8800 and Justin had $5,200 and Claire had $5,400.

The $1600 video clue under “Pivotal Women” read: “After inspiring millions to join a global climate strike in 2019, this Swedish activist was named Time Magazine’s person of the year.”

Stephanie buzzed in: “Who is Greta Thurnberg?”

“No,” Mayim said.

“The correct response, Greta ‘tune’berg” the host phonetically replied as “Thunberg.”

“Stephanie unfortunately you added an ‘r.’”

The other occurred just a few clues later in the same category for $2000.

That video clue read: “Depicted in the movie Hidden Figures and described as one of NASAs human computers, this mathemetician overcame institutional racism and sexism doing the complex calculations that put America’s first astronauts into space and on the moon.”

“Who is Kathleen Johnson?” Stephanie buzzed in.

“No,” Mayim said once more. 

“So close, Katherine Johnson,” the host ruled in a second instance of close-but-no-cigar mispronunciation.


Claire led going into Final Jeopardy! at $8,600 where Justin had $8,400 and Stephanie $5,200.

Since Stephanie’s rivals both missed Daily Double clues, the game resulted in low scores for all.

Final Jeopardy under: “U.S. HISTORY” read: “An 1869 presidential pardon was granted to this man, due in part to a plea by the Medical Society of Harford County, Maryland.”

No one correctly guessed “Who is: Mudd” – Claire was close with “Booth” – and Justin wagered a protective $2,001 so he won to advance with $6,399.

A Reddit thread saw fans feeling empathetic across the board where one wrote: “This was a tough game.”

Another person replied: “An emotional rollercoaster of a game! I especially felt bad for Stephanie losing so much money with ‘Thurnberg’ and ‘Kathleen’ Johnson. Such close misses! 

A third agreed: “I felt bad for those too! Also, a good lesson for contestants to only respond with last name: ‘Who is Johnson’ would probably have worked. 

A fourth wrote: “Note that for the Greta Thunberg clue, the reason Justin and Claire didn’t follow up with the correct response was almost certainly because the clue was reshot, and they were instructed not to signal.”

“The last half of the show was ROUGH,” wrote a fifth.

Claire then posted about Final Jeopardy in the thread: “I was kicking myself the whole time the question was on screen! I knew the clue was referring to Booth’s doctor, but I just had absolutely no idea what his name was!”

“(If only I’d paid closer attention to National Treasure 2),” the contender -who dished she’s an aspiring comedian on-stage – humorously added.


Tomorrow night Caleb Richmond – who had a huge first outing in his quarterfinals game – Tim Cho and Maya Wright will face off for the last slot in the finals.

The finals will air on Wednesday and Thursday, after which point Ken Jennings, 48, will return.

Ken has been off since Mayim’s tournament began and legions of fans have been craving him to come back for the syndicated game show.

Plenty of pointed viewers have not been satisfied with Mayim’s hosting style compared to the 74-time champ who just keeps things rolling and lives and breathes all things Jeopardy!.

They won’t have to wait much longer, as he will be back on fans’ TV screens on Friday, March 10.

As the dutiful Twitter account @IsKenJenningsHostingThis Week posted: “Ken Jennings will return to host Jeopardy! this Fri., 3/10 and will continue through 4/28 for what is expected to be his last hosting stint of the syndicated shows in Season 39.

He will also host ‘Masters’ in primetime later this year—airdates still TBA.”

One fan replied: “We are very much looking forward to Ken returning to host Jeopardy!”

Another wrote: “YES! So pleased to hear it, my wife and I can begin watching again.”

A third unabashedly replied in displeasure that Mayim will be hosting for four months after Ken’s 1.5-month return: “Oh dear, much Mayim to endure, which feels like being forced to hang out with front row girl from class.”

One quantifiable issue now that Mayim is back is her cadence; namely, her pause when deeming a contestant correct on nearly every clue.

Mayim’s “that is…correct” pause is driving fans up the wall and they don’t understand if she’s adding suspense or just looking to check her clue sheet for nearly every question.

Ken will still be on-air for a bit hosting the new Jeopardy! Masters spinoff, which is scheduled to air during the spring in primetime on ABC.

ABCOne fan wrote on Reddit: ‘Such close misses!’ another called it a ‘tough game’[/caption]

ABCThe youngsters went 1/3 on Daily Doubles and 0/3 on Final Jeopardy, it was Justin Bolsen who won instead with $6.39K[/caption]

ABCJustin, Jackson Jones and one more student decided tomorrow will play in the finals – Ken Jennings returns as host Friday[/caption]

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