On the June 22 episode of Jeopardy!, Thornhill’s Jordan Nussbaum, a lawyer at the Romano Law Office, won a nail-biter in the final round to become the first Canadian Jeopardy! champion since … well, the episode before.
Nussbaum unseated returning champion Ali Hasan, a teacher from New Westminster, B.C., and also defeated Amanda Graver of Columbus, Ohio. Host Alex Trebek, born in Sudbury, Ont., jokingly bemoaned the presence of his fellow countrymen at the start of the show.
“What’s with all the Canadians?” he asked. “I don’t know if my heart will be able to stand it.”
Nussbaum hadn’t even expected to get on the show when he first applied.
“When I heard that you could take the test online to become a contestant, I thought it would be a fun thing to do, but to be honest, I never actually considered that I would become a contestant,” he said. “So when I eventually got the call in November that they wanted me to audition, it was kind of a surprise – but it’s not like it was my life goal or anything.”
Nussbaum watched Jeopardy! when he was young, and frequents the weekly pub trivia at Clinton’s on Bloor Street every Monday night. He says his strengths are history, geography and old pop culture. In the episode he won, he took the lead on a question about Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 thriller.
Erin Chesney, his friend and trivia teammate, gushed over Nussbaum’s trivia talents.
“Jordan is good at everything, as evidenced by his Jeopardy! episode,” she said. “If there’s a (music) question from like 1950, 1960, no one in the room will get it but him. And he’ll know it every time.”
Chesney watched both of Nussbaum’s episodes with him. The first was at a viewing party his family hosted on Friday night – the game Nussbaum won. The second game was on Monday, June 25, and Nussbaum lost in Final Jeopardy after leading the whole game.
Because it fell on a Monday, it coincided with their Clinton’s trivia night. But it also happened to be Nussbaum’s birthday.
“So it was kind of this – I was going to say double Jeopardy, but that’s a really bad pun,” said Chesney.
Nussbaum’s friends contacted the bar ahead of time, and they were able to set up a screen to watch the game.
Even though Nussbaum obviously knew the results of each game, he had signed a non-disclosure agreement that prevented him from spoiling the results. So his win was a surprise to many of the party’s attendees. (Some of Nussbaum’s family had watched the live taping of the show back in February, and they had shared the results with a few other family members.)
Nussbaum said people would cheer all his correct answers, but there were two big moments that brought the most excitement.
“I hit a Daily Double on British history … I was behind at that point – like, fairly behind – so I got to say the immortal words, ‘Alex, I’d like to make it a true Daily Double,’ ” he said, meaning he gambled for double or nothing. “I got the answer, so the room exploded.”
In the first episode, during the segment of the show when Trebek talks to the contestants, Nussbaum told the story of how he recently went on a trip with his grandfather to Poland.
“We visited his hometown, which is Sandomierz, Poland, and we visited Warsaw, where he was in hiding during the war,” said Nussbaum. They also visited some camps, including Auschwitz and Majdanek. Nussbaum’s grandfather was a prisoner at Bergen Belsen.
Also in the first episode, one of the clues was, “A common Jewish surname, it’s German for ‘black’.” Nussbaum tried to buzz in, but Hasan beat him to it, prompting Nussbaum to visibly wince at missing the gimme when Hasan responded with the correct question: “What is Schwarz?”