One of the contestants who had the honor of appearing in Alex Trebek’s last episode of “Jeopardy!” was Yoshie Hill of Colma, San Mateo County (just south of San Francisco).
The episode, which aired on Jan. 8, was originally scheduled to be aired on Christmas Day. It was taped just days before Trebek’s death on Nov. 8 at the age of 80 due to pancreatic cancer. He had hosted the game show since its revival in 1984 for a total of 37 seasons.
Hill, an executive assistant and mental health advocate at Heart & Soul Inc., was the returning champion with a two-day total of $31,600. Her competitors were Cliff Chang, a software engineering manager originally from Wilmette, Ill., and Jim Gilligan, an assistant professor of English education originally from New York City.
Shortly before the episode aired, Hill posted on Facebook, “Tonight will be my third appearance on the ‘Jeopardy!’ program, and the last episode hosted by Alex Trebek. I am looking forward to viewing it with both anticipation and sadness.
“Anticipation because I had tried for years to be a contestant, taking every on-line ‘Jeopardy’ test, and undergoing three live interviews, before I finally got The Call to come on down to Culver City to tape episodes — my wish was granted!
“Sadness because it will be saying goodbye to Alex Trebek. Of course, when we filmed back in October, no one knew that it would be his last show. A good thing, because I would have been crying. The best part of being a returning champ was not the money (although that is also nice), but being able to spend a little more time with a man I admired so very much.”
Chang was eliminated in Double Jeopardy, so Final Jeopardy was between Hill and Gilligan. The category was “Women and Science” and the question was: “Dr. Margaret Todd gave science this word for different forms of one basic substance; it’s from the Greek for ‘equal’ and ‘place.’” The answer was “isotope.”
Both contestants got the correct answer. Hill, who had $12,200, did not wager any money. Gilligan, who had $12,800, wagered $11,601 and won with a total of $24,401.
“I was the recipient of his last ‘Ohhhh, sorry!’ Godspeed, Alex — you made the world a better place,” said Hill.
She added that she did not mind losing because as a returning champion she would have been on the first show without Trebek. The show resumed this week with “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings as host.
Hill recalled, “When he passed away, I was still under a legal obligation not to share that I had even been a contestant on ‘Jeopardy,’ so I was limited to my small circle of trust to express my sorrow. I adored the man. I only hope that I can carry on his legacy of civility, humility, curiosity, and courage when faced with overwhelming negative odds.”
Hill was included in a piece by KGO, the local ABC affiliate, about Bay Area contestants on “Jeopardy!” Hill, Gilligan and Chang were featured in several news stories about Trebek’s last show.
Apparently unaware that it was his last show, Trebek did not have any parting remarks, but the episode closed with a montage of his lighter moments over the decades.