Danger! Fans’ jaws drop as ‘underdog’ Hari Parameswaran shocks with a ‘crazy’ comeback to win the second chance tournament

DANGER! Fans got their money’s worth after a dark candidate won out of nowhere.

Hari Parameswaran had little chance of winning the final of the first week of the Second Chance Tournament, so fans were stunned when he did just that.

Ken Jennings kicked off Season 40 this week with a tournament for past contestants


Ken Jennings kicked off Season 40 this week with a tournament for past contestantsPhoto credit: Jeopardy
Silent assassin Hari is the special's first winner - and now he's one to watch - making a comeback that no one expected


Silent assassin Hari is the special’s first winner – and now he’s one to watch – making a comeback that no one expectedPhoto credit: Jeopardy

The first week of Season 40 of Jeopardy! came to a fiery end on Friday.

27 participants who initially lost in 2020/2021 and never thought they would have another chance at great things are back.

Hari, a hardware engineer from Cupertino, California, met Jill Tucker, an operations manager from Mulino, Oregon, and David Maybury, a magnetics engineer originally from Richmond, Virginia.

They emerged as finalists in the first week of Season 37’s Second Chance Tournament and aired in place of regular episodes.

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The special will air for three weeks and each week one player will win $35,000 and a spot in the subsequent Champions Wildcard event, which will air later in the fall.

The winner receives a ticket to the next Tournament of Champions, previously won by Amy Schneider.

The results from the previous evening were combined to determine the winner.

And to start with, Jill was boasting $19,600, David was boasting $6,728 and Hari was only boasting $1,600 – so the odds were against him.

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However, Hari went into Double Jeopardy! to Daily Double time to channel his inner Mattea Roach during the Masters.

Hari received around 26 correct answers and two consecutive Daily Doubles, although he missed one for $5,000.

Then, one clue later, he hit the final Daily Double and recovered by $3,000.

Using his two-handed buzzer style as a weapon, Hari — a 2022 Georgia Institute of Technology graduate — quietly grabbed clue after clue to make up for his low score from the night before.

Before Final Jeopardy, Hari suddenly seemed dangerous with $19,200, David had $14,800, Jill had $7,800


Under “Astronomy” in Final Jeopardy was: “The only dwarf planet in the inner solar system, named after an ancient deity of planting and harvesting.”

Jill was wrong, but bet $0, which earned her a total of $27,400.

David went all in and was right as “Ceres” shot to $29,600 and $36,328 on both nights and gave a thumbs up.

Ken Jennings, 49, noted: “It all depends on Hari’s reaction at the moment. Was it ‘Ceres’?”

Then Ken said, “This just got interesting!”

Hari revealed that he had bet a “huge” $16,000, which netted him $35,200.

Along with his $1,600, he made it to the top with $36,800, winning by just $472.

David received $20,000 for second place and Jill received $10,000 for third place as Hari was upset and now advances to the next tournament in October.


Fans went wild on Reddit because Hari was by far the underdog.

One fan wrote: “This comeback was crazy!! Congratulations to Hari who played so well today. This competition was so exciting, I can’t wait until next week.”

“Such a thriller. “In Jeopardy! “Anything can happen,” wrote another.

“HURRAY for Hari!!! “Wow, what a game,” wrote a third.

“I didn’t expect the underdog to come out with such force. Hari absolutely deserves this win and I’m so happy for him. This is exactly why you shouldn’t count anyone out after the first day,” wrote a fourth.

Challenger David wrote: “Congratulations to Hari for making a monster comeback and getting hot when it counted.”

“Jill remains one of my favorite people I’ve met and the entire SCC Week 1 was amazing and I love that we were able to stay in touch after bringing you a week of great television.”

Hari was labeled an “underdog” based on his result on the first night


Hari was labeled an “underdog” based on his result on the first nightPhoto credit: Jeopardy
But after demonstrating his strength on the second night, he was a force to be reckoned with


But after demonstrating his strength on the second night, he was a force to be reckoned withPhoto credit: Jeopardy
He improved from second to last place the night before to win and even he seemed devastated


He improved from second to last place the night before to win and even he seemed devastatedPhoto credit: Jeopardy


Each week there will be three qualifiers featuring participants from Season 37 instead of new players.

The three winners then compete in a Thursday/Friday final like this one.

All three final winners qualify for the Champions Wildcard of the next tournament.

This will air immediately afterwards and the winners of this series will face off against the short champions from seasons 37 and 38 – to be announced.

The prize for the subsequent eight-week tournament is a ticket to the currently postponed Tournament of Champions.

This takes fans into December, but given the writer’s strikes, it’s unknown what will air after that.


The monumental 40th season of Jeopardy! runs until July 26, 2024.

Ken, 49, is hosting the entire season alone and Mayim Bialik is not currently involved.

Due to the ongoing WGA and SAG strikes with actors and writers unable to negotiate fair pay, co-host Mayim has officially been removed from the board.

She bowed out in solidarity with the strikers, which came as a huge shock since she and Ken were chosen to co-host following the death of Alex Trebek in 2020.

This is far from the only big change in the highly anticipated new season.

Aside from there being no new contestants and no Mayim, the other big change is the clues.

The game show reuses questions from previous seasons without their writers present.

Showrunner Michael Davies explained in “Internal Danger!” Podcast that it “wouldn’t be fair for new contestants to appear on the show for the first time” with material that is not original or that was written before the strike.

“The material we will be using is a combination of material that our WGA writers wrote before the strike and that is still in the database, and material that will be reused from several, several seasons of the show.”

The 2023 Tournament of Champions will not take place until the strikes are over.

Several Season 39 champions, including Ray LaLonde, Cris Pannullo, Hannah Wilson and Ben Chan, said they would not participate in TOC until the strikes were completed.

Davies also announced a received consolation prizes for the upcoming season (when regular episodes resume) and said he admired and missed the series’ beloved writers.

The news sparked a scathing reaction from Masters winner James Holzhauer, who took to the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, to denounce the show.

“If you don’t have time to listen, here is the recap of today’s announcement,” James, 39, wrote, sharing a link to the podcast episode.

“1:00-2:00: The writers of Jeopardy are invaluable and without them we couldn’t produce the show,” he continued.

“2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.: This is how we will produce the coming season without them.”

Meanwhile, Ken faced backlash from some fans and former players over his decision to cross the picket line.

Ken remained relatively quiet on the subject, repeating a statement from the series’ executive producer in which he referenced the late Alex continuing to serve as host during the 2007–08 writers’ strike.

Mayim will also compete on Celebrity Jeopardy! replaced by Ken. which will air all of next season on ABC.

Season 2 of Celebrity Jeopardy! will air on September 27 and the first stars were announced on Thursday.

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Her exit marks the first time that Ken will host all programming for Jeopardy!

Fans will meet the next group of second-chance contenders on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, hoping to join Hari in the following tournament.

Hari will now compete in a subsequent 8-week tournament with a ticket to the next Tournament of Champions up for grabs - so he could face Cris Pannullo and more


Hari will now compete in a subsequent 8-week tournament with a ticket to the next Tournament of Champions up for grabs – so he could face Cris Pannullo and morePhoto credit: Danger!


CELINE CASTRONUOVO is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. CELINE CASTRONUOVO joined Dailynationtoday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: celine@dailynationtoday.com.

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