With 45 years on the air, there are few game shows with more institutional weight behind them than Jeopardy!, still the high bar for TV competitions where know-it-alls flash their useless trivia skills for cash. That doesn’t mean the Alex Trebek-hosted series doesn’t move with the times, though, as ably demonstrated last night, when the show hosted its first sudden death tiebreaker ever in regulation play—i.e., the most exciting, cutthroat TV battle ever waged over the political missteps of British prime minister Theresa May.
The showdown in question came about when two competitors—Sarah Norris and returning champion Laura McLean—tied on a particularly tricky Final Jeopardy! clue about British islands. In earlier seasons, the two would have simply returned the next night as co-champions, but the show recently changed its rules for ties—as detailed in this blog post from 2016—and so the pair was tossed into a head-to-head buzzer beater, instead. (Meanwhile, thile third-place finisher Scott Krzywonos was left to gamely shrug at the coincidence as the two battled it out.)
McLean eventually won, although it’s worth noting that Norris could have avoided this whole debacle with a more precise eye to her wagering strategy. (Would it surprise you to know that the avid nerds of the Jeopardy! fan community have a whole glossary of terms, along with automatic calculators, based around figuring out the strategically optimal amount to bet in any given play?) At least she didn’t earn the wrath of notorious trivia bully Alex Trebek in the process.