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Jeopardy! player Melissa Klapper loses at crucial point in winning streak and leaves fans ‘begging’ for female champion

Jeopardy! player Melissa Klapper loses at crucial point in winning streak and leaves fans ‘begging’ for female champion

JEOPARDY!’s contestant Melissa Klapper lost after three victories on Thursday’s episode.

The Jeopardy! player was one win shy from being the first and technically only female contestant to qualify for the 2023 Tournament of Champions, which isn’t good.

ABCJeopardy! contestant Melissa Klapper lost on Wednesday’s episode[/caption]

ABCFans are ‘getting frustrated’ because the 2023 Tournament of Champions seemingly has no women[/caption]

The returning champion faced Daisy Donohue, an actor and artist originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, and Alec Chao, a management & program analyst from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Melissa is a professor, four-time book author, and former ballerina from Merion Station, Pennsylvania who amassed $59,100 before being inked out on game four.

The frontrunner was in decent shape going into Double Jeopardy!, but missed both Daily Doubles betting $4,000 apiece, which host Ken Jennings, 48, called an “unfortunate” sight.

After the second miss, Melissa’s head slumped and the mixed mood in the audience was palpable.

Those stumbles left Alec with a runaway – or ensured victory – going into Final Jeopardy with $15,200 – Melissa had $6,800, and Daisy had $4,600.

Final Jeopardy under “Movie Theme Songs” read: “Monty Norman, the composer of this character’s theme, said the staccato riff conveyed sexiness, mystery & ruthlessness.”

Only Alec was correct with “James Bond”, adding a safe $305 and becoming the new winner with $15,505.

While Game show viewers are now excited to see how far Alec will go, Melissa’s loss at game four was not ideal.


Melissa needed tonight’s win to be the first and currently only female contestant in the 2023 Tournament of Champions which is airing in September and right now, only features men, per Jeopardy!’s website.

There are four months left this season which ends in early August – and Melissa was also the first female to notch even three wins.

Compared to 2022’s lineup and Amy Scheider’s momentous $250K victory, the blatant lack of diversity is starting to show.

The issue was brought up immediately when Melissa lost on Reddit where users wondered what the show will do.

One wrote: “That’s a damn shame. Melissa was a very likable player. Well, congrats to Alec.”

Another wrote: “Kudos to you for winning, Alec, and you sincerely seem like a nice guy! But UGH for Melissa!”

“Yes, she was lucky to be here today due to Karen’s wager yesterday, but she was still so close to getting four wins…and she sadly fumbled the Daily Doubles.”

“So we still apparently have no female Tournament of Champions contenders.

“Have all the games for the rest of this season been taped yet? I’d consider a prayer circle otherwise.”

A fourth wrote: “Makes me wonder when the last all-male Tournament of Champions was.”

To which a fifth claimed: “A long time ago: 1987. It’s the only all-male Tournament of Champions so far, I believe.”

A sixth wrote: “It’s getting pretty frustrating i’m not gonna lie. it’s almost April!

While some argued they could “pull 3-day champs if the ToC contender list remains short (and male-dominated)” yet one more argued it wasn’t looking statistically promising.

“With a four-day total of just ~$60,000, it’s doubtful Melissa would have enough as a 3-time champ to qualify, unless the producers give her an at-large bid. I’m not sure of the criteria, but assume total winnings would be No. 1.”

Unfortunately, Melissa is still at the bottom of the 3-day champs [this season].”


At the moment, those officially having qualified are former poker ace Cris Pannullo with 21 wins, eight-day champ Stephen Webb, four-day winner Matthew Marcussix-day winner Troy Meyer, fan-favorite Ray Lalonde with 13 wins, five-day champ Luigi de Guzman, and four-day champ and priest David Sibley.

Also competing are Celebrity Jeopardy! winner Ike Barehnholz in a new twist and winner of the recent High School Reunion tournament, Justin Bolsen.

Jeopardy! notes that who is invited is still up to “producers’ sole discretion”.


Melissa’s third win did come very much due to her rival Karen Miller making a huge wagering flub with a runaway which some fans called the “biggest blunder” they’d “ever seen.”

With just five clues left, Karen landed on the last Daily Double.

She had $21.8K whereas Melissa had $7.1K and Zach $6.4K when she found it.

In other words, she had a runaway game – meaning she could enter Final Jeopardy and win by betting $0.

Despite having a wide enough lead to just coast at that point, the contestant shockingly wagered $10000.

The clue under: “Hans, Solo” read: “This artist the younger was working on yet another portrait of Henry VIII when he died in 1543.”

Karen could not get to “Hans Holbein” and just shook her head.

Karen’s score dropped from an ensured victory to half her previous score and the audience was silent.

One fan tweeted: “the worst ever bet by Karen, who had the game pretty much in the bag. What a way to lose!”

“This person made the worst daily double bet of all time – costing her sure win and putting her in third place. Who is Karen,” wrote another.

“I’ve watched Jeopardy! regularly for 35+ years and can’t remember anything that stupid,” ripped a third.

Many people posted that she “pulled a Clavin,” referencing the classic episode of Cheers where Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) competed on the game show (featuring a real Alex Trebek and the actual set) and fumbled all his winnings on a Final Jeopardy! gamble.


She said she was thinking “this” and added a GIF of Homer Simpson with a cymbal-banging monkey in his brain.

“Ultimately, I did what I did, and I had THE MOST FUN, and at the end of the day (I’m sorry Mom, I know you hate that phrase) it’s a game, and it’s a show, and it’s a game show.”

If it’s any consolation, the 2023 ToC will not be the only big winner’s tournament this year.

Ken is hosting Jeopardy! Masters, a round-robin 20-episode tournament in primetime on ABC.

It’s said to be airing in the early spring with the air date still TBA – it includes legends like James HolzhauerAmy, and Mattea Roach.

Seventy-four-time winner Ken and Mayim Bialik, 47, were announced as the successors for the late Alex Trebek over the summer.

Ken is hosting until April 28th at which point Mayim will return on May 1 and ride out the last four months of the season.

ABCMelissa could not recover from missing two $4K Daily Doubles and Alec beat her streak[/caption]

ABCThe 2023 Tournament of Champions could be the first year without a female contender since 1987[/caption]

JeopardyOne fan wrote: ‘Have all the games for the rest of this season been taped yet? I’d consider a prayer circle otherwise’[/caption]

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