Algonquin librarian wins $50,000 in 'Jeopardy!' competition

After being in three episodes of "Jeopardy!" in 2021, Jen Jazwinski was shocked to have gotten a call from the show earlier this year asking for her to return.

"I was at work when they called, and I didn't pick up because I didn't know the number," Jazwinski, an Algonquin Area Public Library youth services librarian, said. "Then I had to lock myself in a closet and call them back."

A couple of weeks later, Jazwinski was off to Los Angeles to compete in the "Wildcard Champions" competition.

Jazwinski had an impressive run during the competition, winning two rounds and finishing second place in the finals, which aired on Tuesday. For her effort, she took home $50,000. The winner of the finals goes on to compete in the "Tournament of Champions."

Since her last time on the show was during the pandemic, the experience was very different for her, Jazwinski said. She was able to bring her family and connect more with staff and fellow competitors. Jazwinski went home with more than $60,000 in winnings after her 2021 "Jeopardy!" run.

"What made it special is that my husband and parents were able to be there this time," she said.

Jazwinski said she was more nervous compared with her first 2021 appearance because she didn't want to perform poorly in front of her family or find out that her previous success was beginner's luck.

"I feel very pleased to discover that it wasn't a fluke," she said.

Jazwinski has been with the Algonquin Area Public Library since 2008, with a brief career change from 2016 to 2020. She attributes her trivia skills to being a librarian and growing up in a family that loved to play Trivial Pursuit.

"I really cannot thank my co-workers enough for how supportive they were through it all," Jazwinski said.

Her favorite categories during the competition were "Broadway musicals" and "American authors."

"I thought 'Wow, that is probably the best category for me during the semifinals,'" she said.

Jazwinski's plans on how to spend her winnings are largely pragmatic, such as replacing the windows in her home and other housework. But she does plan to take a trip with her family to New York City next year to see Billy Joel.

"I feel extraordinarily lucky," she said, "to play such a fun game and to have my family watch me."

As for future game shows, Jazwinski said she is going to take a break and resume daily life for now. But an application to "The Chase" or "Master Minds" isn't totally out of the question in the future.

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