A “Jeopardy!” contestant who is from Mount Airy lost during its Tournament of Champions in a game telecast Monday night.
Hunter Appler was competing in the first quarterfinal contest of the tournament being held over the next two weeks, with the ultimate winner to be decided on Nov. 17. Appler was one of 15 contestants chosen for the Tournament of Champions, featuring the best “Jeopardy!” players from recent seasons of the long-running quiz program. The last tournament occurred in 2015.
Appler, 34, whose parents are Dr. Mark and Kate Appler of Mount Airy, qualified for the event due to winning six games in June 2016 and cash totaling $145,603. A 2002 graduate of Mount Airy High School, Hunter Appler is now an attorney living in Augusta, Georgia, with his wife Abigail, a fellow trivia enthusiast and longtime “Jeopardy!” fan.
After huge success in 2016, the going was a bit rougher for Appler in the tourney’s first game Monday night.
During the quarterfinal episode, actually taped in September and premiering Monday, Appler was matched against a quiz show buzz-saw of sorts, aptly named Buzzy Cohen, a contestant from Los Angeles who had won nine games in 2016.
Cohen got off to a quick lead, trailed by Pranjal Vachaspati, a former six-game winner from Urbana, Illinois, while Appler managed to stay within striking distance as the competition progressed.
A key moment occurred in the Double Jeopardy, or second, round of play when Appler happened to select a “daily-double” clue. This allowed him to bet all his available cash to that point rather than just the clue’s regular monetary sum.
Appler wagered $7,000 in a bold move that would have enabled him to catch Cohen and Vachaspati, but supplied the wrong response of Samuel Taylor Coleridge to a poet-related clue in which William Blake was correct.
That proved to be an insurmountable setback for Appler, who finished the game with $1,400. Cohen won with $30,000 and Vachaspati was second with $16,407.
Appler technically is not eliminated from the Tournament of Champions, due to a provision in which four non-winners of quarterfinal games qualify as wild-card semifinalists by virtue of sizable winnings. But his chances are slim due to accumulating only $1,400 Monday night.
During the last “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions in November 2015, the wild-card semifinalists qualified with preliminary winnings ranging from $7,800 to $17,200.
Appler told show host Alex Trebek in the contestant-interview session of Monday night’s game that he and his wife had used part of the money from his 2016 appearance on “Jeopardy!” to take blacksmithing lessons in North Carolina.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.