Rowan Ward, a nonbinary contestant in the Second Chance Tournament on Jeopardy!, won their semifinal game in an episode that aired Wednesday and advanced to the two-part finals in the tournament, which will be broadcast Thursday and Friday.
Ward competed last year against Matt Amodio, one of the top champions of the 2021-2022 season. The Second Chance Tournament, which began airing last week, gives Ward and others who lost to big winners like Amodio, Amy Schneider, and Mattea Roach the opportunity to claim a berth in the Tournament of Champions, which begins airing Monday and brings together all the leading champs of the season.
Ward took an early lead on Wednesday's show and dominated the game. They finished with $36,800 and were the only player to answer the Final Jeopardy! question correctly.
When Ward was on the show last year, they were not out publicly as nonbinary and competed under a different name. They had expressed some regret about being known under a deadname, but on Wednesday's episode, they discussed their nonbinary identity. They used their third-place prize of $1,000 from last year to pay for the fees associated with their name change, "and now I'm back on Jeopardy! with a second chance as my true self," they told host Ken Jennings.
Ward, from Chicago, is a sportswriter and editor specializing in horse racing. They won fans in their first appearance with their unusual occupation and ebullient personality.
In the two-part final, they will face Monday's and Tuesday's respective winners, Sadie Goldberger and Jack Weller. The contestant who finishes first in the final will be in the Tournament of Champions with last week's Second Chance winner, Jessica Stephens, plus the top champs of the season, including Schneider, Amodio, Roach, Ryan Long, Jonathan Fisher, and others.
Whether Ward makes the Tournament of Champions or not, that tournament will have LGBTQ+ representation with Schneider, who is transgender, and Roach, a lesbian. Schneider, Amodio, and Roach will skip the first round of the tournament so others won't have to face such formidable contestants, and the three of them will compete in an exhibition game set to air November 8.