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Purdue graduate wins Alex Trebek's final episode of Jeopardy

The final Jeopardy episode with Alex Trebek aired this Friday evening on WLFI. The winning contestant on that show was a Purdue graduate. His name is Jim Gilligan.

Posted: Jan 9, 2021 12:07 AM
Updated: Jan 10, 2021 11:36 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)-The finale Jeopardy episode with Alex Trebek aired this Friday evening on WLFI. The winning contestant on that show was a Purdue graduate named Jim Gilligan. Gilligan has been a game show fan his whole life, but he is no stranger to being on one. 

"I don't know that there are many people who can say that they appeared on millionaire with Regis Philbin and Jeopardy with Alex Trebek," said Gilligan.  "So I don't know maybe it will get me a few free drinks at a bar." 

Back in February of 2000, he was a contestant on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. On that show, he won over $60,000. While he says that experience was a cool one, Jeopardy! has always been his favorite. Ever since he started watching it, he knew he wanted to be a contestant. 

"Jeopardy was the first one that I thought wow I would really like to get on this," said Gilligan.  "It's challenging it's glamorous and Alex is cool."

Gilligan used to audition in Atlantic City when he lived in New York.  It wasn't until he took the online test in 2020, that he finally got the call that he was going to be on the show. Little did he know his first appearance on Jeopardy! would be Alex Trebek's final taping. 

"It was just such an honor to share a stage with him and then later to find out that was his very last one I was simultaneously thrilled and heartbroken," said Gilligan. 

Although the experience was bittersweet, Gilligan says the experience has helped him reconnect with people he has met throughout his life.

"It's kind of reconnecting me with my Purdue family," said Gilligan.  "A lot of my colleagues are like finally something to be happy about."

As for the future of Jeopardy, he says as long as the future host follows in Alex's footsteps the show will continue.

"The game is the star right," added Gilligan.  "That's what Alex always said. He was not the star of Jeopardy he always wanted to be known as the host of Jeopardy and he insisted that the game and contestants were the stars." 

After winning Friday night's episode Gilligan says he will be on Monday night's episode as returning champ with Ken Jennings as the host. 

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