[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for the Wednesday, July 19, 2023 episode of Jeopardy!]
Liz Cotrufello didn’t win Jeopardy! on July 19, but she still the most impressive game of the night. The 4th grade teacher from Pennsylvania was up against returning champ David Bederman and fellow new contestant Sean Weatherston, and despite coming in third place, her quick buzzer work and even quicker thinking made an impression on viewers.
Liz was in last place at the time of the first commercial break and the end of the first round. The former scores were David with $4,600, Sean with $1,200, and Liz with -$1,000, and the latter were David with $6,600, Sean with $2,200, and Liz out of the red with $200. But the second round belonged to Liz. Her buzzer timing was unbeatable, leading to her snagging the lead in just one round. In three separate categories, she was one question away from running the category.
When she came across the second Daily Double, she was tied with David at $6,600. She took the lead when breaking this tie with her correct response, adding $1,600 to her score. By the end of the round, she had increased her score by a whopping $12,000. She went into Final Jeopardy in second place with $12,200.
David staged his own comeback in this round thanks in part to a successful Daily Double wager of $4,000. That DD win took him to $8,200 vs. Liz’s $11,000. Heading into Double Jeopardy, David led with $15,000 vs. $12,200 for Liz and $7,000 for Sean.
Strong playing aside, Liz wasn’t able to pull out a win in the end. She was the only player to answer the Final Jeopardy question incorrectly, dropping her down to third place. The category was “Famous Paintings.” The clue: “A German guidebook to a 1937 World’s Fair dismissed it as a ‘hodgepodge of body parts that any four-year-old could have painted.’” The correct answer: “What is Guernica?”
Sean’s $3,000 wager took him to a grand total of $10,000, enough for second place. Liz ended with $9,399, and David won the night with a total of $24,401, nearly the same amount as his previous nights’ winnings ($28,401). Fans on the Jeopardy! Reddit page praised Liz’s wicked comeback.
“She was in the zone,” wrote one user. Another comment drew in David’s attention. “I can see how David was able to beat Daniel. He’s a really good player. Not quite unbeatable on the buzzer though because he allowed Liz to catch up with him,” they wrote. David replied saying that the buzzer levels the playing field of any Jeopardy! match. “Appreciate you. The buzzer is the great equalizer because everyone on that stage deserves to be there, and can win a game with the right board and combo of skill / luck / math.”
Fans on Twitter also made note of Liz’s “epic” skills in the second round. Check out some of the fan reactions:
— Jeff Veloso (@jveloso100) July 19, 2023
That was an epic Double #Jeopardy round by Liz.
I hope all your students saw you do that!
— Vaughn Winchell (@VaughnWinchell) July 19, 2023
Liz is so quick with the buzzer. Poor David is squeezing for dear life, unsuccessfully. #Jeopardy
— Mario (@MarioTravels) July 19, 2023
Wow Liz has found the buzzer! Major Double #Jeopardy comeback in process…
— TylerThinksThis (@tylerthinksthis) July 19, 2023
Damnnnn Liz let’s gooo! #jeopardy
— Katie (@kdshif) July 19, 2023
David will be back for the Thursday, July 20 episode. The Jeopardy! Season 39 finale will air on July 28.
Jeopardy!, Weekdays, check local listings