Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Life has changed for Jason Zuffranieri since his 19-game win streak on “Jeopardy!” nearly two years ago.
After his nearly four-week run on the hit game show, the Albuquerque Academy math teacher tied for fourth place on the all-time “Jeopardy!” consecutive games list. He won $532,496 over the 19 shows.
Zuffranieri is back in the saddle and in the semifinals of the “Tournament of Champions.” The episode with Zuffranieri will air at 6 p.m. Wednesday on KRQE. He will compete against Jennifer Quail of Dowagiac, Michigan, and Nibir Sarma of Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
Zuffranieri filmed the tournament about five weeks ago and has been watching the episodes as they come out.
“It’s been really compelling,” he said of being on the show again. “It’s so different. My life has changed so much.”
Going back to the show was familiar in its excitement, but also had a different feel to it.
Production was adhering to COVID-safe practices, where each contestant had to wear a mask when not filming.
“It was an added stress,” he said. “Then there’s the fact that Mr. Trebek isn’t there anymore. It was strange to not see him but they’ve been having guest hosts for months, so I was used to it. But there’s only one Mr. Trebek and it wasn’t the same.”
Host Alex Trebek died Nov. 8.
Since appearing on the show, Zuffranieri continued to teach at Albuquerque Academy.
His students were excited for him to be on the show, but it wore off quickly.
“They know about it, but my job is to teach them daily,” he said. “It worked itself out as we didn’t skip a beat in the classroom.”
Zuffranieri has also gotten married and has a second child on the way. He spends his downtime competing in online trivia competitions to keep himself sharp.
“When I started this ride, I was just dating my now wife,” he said. “I got engaged and things started moving forward quickly. Everything has happened so fast. I never dreamed I would be part of the Tournament of Champions. The field is competitive and I’m watching it unfold with the rest of the world.”