University Student Wins ‘Jeopardy!’ During Second Appearance

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Rotimi Kukoyi won at his second chanceRotimi Kukoyi won at his second chance

Jeopardy! is actually a familiar stomping ground for college student Rotimi Kukoyi, who just enjoyed a high-tension win and is primed to head to the final tournament. This latest season of the game show has been themed around second chances and over half a decade after originally appearing on the game show, Kukoyi is getting his and taking full advantage of this second bid for victory.

The last time Kukoyi appeared on Jeopardy! was six years ago, back when he was just a freshman in high school and the host was longtime Jeopardy! head honcho Alex Trebek. Today, he’s a sophomore at the University of North Carolina (UNC) competing with Ken Jennings as host. Here’s the latest in his journey to the top.

UNC sophomore Rotimi Kukoyi is getting a second chance at winning ‘Jeopardy!’

Rotimi Kukoyi as a high school freshman and college sophomoreRotimi Kukoyi as a high school freshman and college sophomore
Rotimi Kukoyi as a high school freshman and college sophomore / Jeopardy Productions, Inc. via the University of North Carolina

Kukoyi returned to Jeopardy! on Tuesday and held his own against other returning hopefuls. Everyone brought their best game that night with some $2,200 separating the potential victors. Kukoyi was just $600 behind in second place.

Then came the last category, The Ancient World. “This text helped the soul, or Ka, navigate the journey into a region called Amenti,” read the clue. Kukoyi correctly answered The Book of the Dead and his wager put him exactly $1 ahead of the competition to claim first place. Kukoyi also held strong during Final Jeopardy thanks to his training routine that involved over 9,000 flashcards, which he learned at a rate of 800 to 1,000 per day all while managing his coursework.

This college sophomore is taking full advantage of his second chance at ‘Jeopardy!’

Kukoyi was unable to participate in an earlier reunionKukoyi was unable to participate in an earlier reunion
Kukoyi was unable to participate in an earlier reunion / Jeopardy Productions, Inc. via the University of North Carolina

This all means Kukoyi will head to the two-day final tournament. The winner of that will secure a spot on the Champions Wildcard event. But already, Kukoyi has made history as the youngest contestant in the quiz show’s Second Chance Tournament. This themed tournament gives former contestants a rare chance to try their hand at victory again, despite some trends in Jeopardy! usually making this a rarity.

“It says right there in the paperwork — once you’re on this competition, only come back if you’re invited,” said Kukoyi. This reunion might have happened a bit sooner had circumstances not gotten in the way; he caught COVID-19 just in time for Jeopardy!’s High School Reunion Tournament. However, the show’s producers actually assured him, “We’ll have you back for something later.”

The first time he competed, Alex Trebek hosted, and now Ken Jennings is in chargeThe first time he competed, Alex Trebek hosted, and now Ken Jennings is in charge
The first time he competed, Alex Trebek hosted, and now Ken Jennings is in charge / YouTube screenshot

Sure enough, on a day Kukoyi happened to be wearing his Jeopardy! hoodie, he got a text with the promised invite.

Kukoyi is a Morehead-Cain Scholar majoring in health policy and management, while minoring in biology and chemistry, with plans to become a physician. Hopefully, all these victories represent a sign of more good things to come for the former high school student who made headlines for getting accepted into all 15 of the colleges he applied to! Best of luck, Rotimi Kukoyi.

He won the evening by $1He won the evening by $1
He won the evening by $1 / YouTube screenshot

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