When you think of Jeopardy, you probably think of very smart individuals correctly answering questions on topics that very few regular people would know. But Jeopardy is still a game of strategy, and Naval officer Manny Abellto proved he was up to the challenge, winning a two-episode total of $42,799 despite going into Final Jeopardy dead last.
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Abell entered the Final Jeopardy round in a distant third place with a mere $1000. This amount was a far cry from his fellow competitors who had amassed an impressive $12,300 each.
The final question asked what is the only country that borders both the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. The answer? Iran. Thankfully for Abell, this question stumped both of his competitors. The two tied leaders submitted incorrect answers, betting all of their money in the process.
Abell didn’t guess the correct answer either. But what earned him a spot on the next episode was the fact that he didn’t bet all of his money. Instead, he bet $999, winning the final round with just $1.
Host Alex Trebek congratulated Abell on his strategy and acknowledged that winning with only $1 had happened only one other time in the show’s history.
In 1993, a fellow military man, Air Force Lt. Col. Darryl Scott, won with just one dollar to his name in similar circumstances.
For his gamble to work, Abell needed two things to happen. He had to hope that neither of his competitors would know the correct answer. And he had to assume that they would both bet all of their available funds in the hope of outsmarting each other. If all three contestants were to finish with zero dollars, there would be no winner. They would all be back for another episode.
Abell’s clever thinking kept his winning streak alive and his prize money growing. Who says you need to know all the answers or to finish with big money to win Jeopardy? At the end of the day, you just need a dollar to your name.