Katie Sekelsky. Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Warren Native, Jeopardy! Champion Sekelsky Revels in Recent Run on Game Show

June 28, 2021

CULVER CITY, CALIF. – Katie Sekelsky, Jeopardy! champion has a pretty nice ring to it.

Sekelsky, a 2004 Warren Area High School graduate, just completed a successful run on the popular game show, her favorite since she was a young child.

The experience lived up to all of her expectations – and then some. It also turned her into a bit of a celebrity.

“It exceeded (my expectations), both in terms of how great the experience was and my success,” Sekelsky said. “It was great. It definitely took me a while to go through all of the  messages, texts and Facebook friend requests.”

Sekelsky’s run included three victories and total winnings of $37,899.

And it was something she had to keep a secret up until the shows aired. Mostly a secret, that is.

“Aside from the other contestants, only my husband and a friend out in California knew,” she said. “My boss figured out, too, even though I didn’t explicitly tell her.”

One of the neat things that Sekelsky got to experience was getting to have two separate hosts. Jeopardy! has been having guest hosts since the passing of icon Alex Trebek, and Sekelsky got to have both Mayim Bialik (‘Blossom’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory’) and Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of NBC’s ‘Today.’

“It also makes me the first and probably the only person who has had two different female hosts on Jeopardy!,” Sekelsky said. “They were both great. I knew going into my first game, since it was Friday’s episode if I won I was going to fly back a week later.”

She did just that, having Bialik for her first appearance and Guthrie the rest of the way.

“The hosts were dealing with a lot of stress,” she said. “I got Mayim Bialik on her last day and Savannah Guthrie on her first day of hosting. That was interesting to see.”

She also got to interact with the other contestants, although perhaps not as much as she normally would have because of COVID.

“The COVID precautions were very strictly enforced,” she said. “I talked to the other contestants, and every single person I met was great, but it was hard to gather in a group and talk and during lunch and stuff like that.”

As for her success on the show, Sekelsky attributes much of it to simply being prepared.

“I knew that the best thing I could do was to go into it prepared for all parts of the show,” she said. “I knew that some people do that and someone’s a little bit faster, or the clues just hit in someone’s realm of expertise, so luck played into it as well. There are people as prepared as me who lost their first game.”

So what advice would she have for those who are aiming to get on the show?

“I would absolutely say be prepared for all areas of the game,” she said. “Know your facts – Bible facts, Shakespeare, world capitals, etc. Also, get a fake buzzer or a USB buzzer or clicky pen to feel out what feels right.”

And one more piece of wisdom, as it pertains to Final Jeopardy and Daily Doubles.

“Absolutely wager theory,” she said. “That’s such a big part of the game.”

Sekelsky got to put her wager theory practice to good use as smart wagering helped her win in both her first and second days on the show.

And now, she gets to proudly say for the rest of her life that she is a Jeopardy! champion.

“The only downside is I now have all of these skills in ringing in fast and properly wagering for Final Jeopardy,” she said.

And, of course, she’ll be expected to win every trivia night for the rest of her life.

“As much pressure as there was on set, it will be ramped up with every bar trivia I go to for the rest of my life,” she said with a laugh. “I already am planning on going to one where my friend is going to introduce me as a 3-time Jeopardy! champion.”

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