Josh Saak, Emily Sands, Nick Cascone, and Yungsheng Wang Win Season 37/38 Champions Wildcard
The Season 37/38 Jeopardy! Champions Wildcard competition, which featured former contestants who won between one and three games during seasons 37 and 38, concluded on Monday with Josh Saak, Emily Sands, Nick Cascone, and Yungsheng Wang each advancing to the 2024 Tournament of Champions and taking home $100,000 each in winnings.
Yungsheng, a deputy public defender originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, became the last player in the competition to punch his ticket to the next Tournament of Champions after defeating U.S. Marine officer Tyler Vandenberg and chemistry professor Gary Hollis on Monday. While the Hearts group victor only earned $8,000 in Game 1 of the finals, he racked up $33,800 in Game 2 and brought his cumulative score to $41,800 after picking up two vital Daily Doubles. Tyler finished in second place with a two-day final total of $17,600 and Gary placed third with $12,500.
“[It] was a total guess,” Yungsheng said, discussing the first Daily Double that helped him forge ahead of his competitors. “And then for the [second Daily Double]…I’m good at hard facts.”
Nick Cascone came out on top of the Clubs group at the end of November when he took down his fellow Season 37 champs Jen Jazwinski and Dennis Chase. The orthopedic physician assistant, who originally hails from Queens, New York, placed first with a cumulative score of $38,500 after coming up with the correct Final Jeopardy! response during Game 2 of the finals. Jen took second with a cumulative of $13,200, and Dennis finished in third with $7,900.
“I was ahead [in Game 1] but it wasn't a large lead,” Nick said, discussing his performance in the finals. “So, I knew as long as I kept close to the other two [players] then we could get to Final Jeopardy! with a higher total for both games overall.”
“I mean most games between good players come down to [whether] you know final or not,” Nick added.
Diamonds winner Emily Sands secured her spot in the Tournament of Champions in early November when she defeated Season 37 Second Chance winner Jilana Cotter and Season 37 two-game winner Aaron Craig. Emily came in first place with a two-day cumulative of $42,199; while Aaron finished in second with $10,000, and Jilana trailed in third with $3,000.
Though Emily earned an impressive two-day final cumulative, the project manager from Chanhassen, Minnesota admitted the competition was stiff.
“I'm thrilled to have played in some really, really good games,” Emily said. “But I mean, the final scores of the finals do not reflect how difficult that gameplay was, and how all three of us were, we're really battling to, to try and win.”
Josh Saak became the first-ever Champions Wildcard winner back in October when he took the win in the Spades group. The traffic engineer from Boise, Idaho, triumphed over Lucy Ricketts and Sam Stapelton with a two-day final cumulative of $47,200. And while Josh said he is thrilled to have won $100,000 and earned a spot in the 2024 Tournament of Champions, the best part of the experience was getting to play the game he loves in front of an audience with his fellow contestants.
“I mean, all 27 of us, you know, we're all champions,” Josh said of his fellow Spades players. “No matter what happens on this stage.”
Josh, Emily, Nick and Yungsheng will all return to the Alex Trebek Stage next year to play in the upcoming Tournament of Champions.