Jeopardy! has had its fair share of weird moments in the past year, and this latest moment is nearly as odd as Alex Trebek saying "Dick tree." In what was a show first for regular play, a tie-breaker was utilized to determine the winner of the episode when two of the contestants ended the game with the exact same score. The tie, which is quite rare in Jeopardy! in general, can be seen below:
Scott could only shrug from the sidelines as Alex Trebek took Sarah Norris and Laura Mclain to the sudden death round. Norris and Mclain looked to be in a haze as Trebek breezed past the fanfare of the occasion and went straight away into a question. Luckily, Mclain's three-day champion instincts kicked in and she managed to snap out of the rarefied air surrounding her and took home the win on an episode that marked Jeopardy!'s first regular game tie-breaker.
The moment essentially meant this is the first time Jeopardy! has had to utilize its tie-breaker rule outside of tournament play. The rule was first instituted in November of 2014 to prevent ties from happening in the show's regular play. Prior to the rule's addition, contestants who tied at the end of Jeopardy! would all continue on to compete the next day. A tie between competitors has happened on the show before, and truth be told, the results are more exciting in some cases than a sudden death tie-breaker is:
Had Laura Mclain failed in giving the correct answer to win the Jeopardy! tie-breaker, the rules state that Alex Trebek must continue asking questions until either contestant breaks the tie by giving a correct answer. So now, we'll have to wait for a moment where two tied contestants are so consistently wrong that Trebek is forced to close the show without declaring a winner. Of course, that'd definitely be a rare sight to see as Jeopardy! has some smart cookies on the show. Of course, even bright people can have a dumb moment every so often.
The tie-breaker is one of a handful of rare Jeopardy! scenarios, and would've been more complicated if everyone been tied at $0 at the game's end. In that case, everyone loses and three new contestants are chosen for the next day of play. There's also a scenario that if everyone's score is in the negative by the time "Final Jeopardy" is announced, everyone's score defaults to zero and the final question is not asked. I guess it's not all that surprising the folks behind one of television's smartest game shows have a rule for every scenario.