6abc surprises Montgomery Co. professor with news she's going to Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions

Alicia Vitarelli Image
Monday, December 4, 2023
Montco professor surprised with invite to 'Jeopardy!' Tournament of Champions
Melissa Klapper was surprised by Ken Jennings with an invitation play in the 'Jeopardy!' Tournament of Champions.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Montgomery County professor and scholar who won three straight games this year on "Jeopardy!" just got the news of a lifetime - and our Alicia Vitarelli got to deliver it!

Back in March, Melissa Klapper, a history professor at Rowan University, became a three-game winner on "Jeopardy!"

"It was very exciting," Klapper says. "It's a little surreal. I think that's the word that a lot of people use who make it onto the show. To be on the set that you've been watching on TV for all these years, it was very exciting."

Her three day winnings totaled $59,100, and she's been waiting to see if she would get an invitation to play again in the Champions Wildcard competition.

"I have been waiting to find out when I get a chance to go back," Klapper says. "I'm very excited about the opportunity to play again."

It turns out she will play again, but not quite as she expected. We played her a special message from "Jeopardy!" host Ken Jennings.

He said: "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but we are not going to be able to invite you back for the Champions Wildcard competition after all. But that's because you're going straight to the Tournament of Champions instead. Congratulations, Melissa!"

She was flabbergasted!

"Wow," she said. "I'm so excited. Oh, my goodness! That's really something. I'm not sure what to say. It's very exciting. The opportunity to be in the Tournament of Champions is really, really special and a privilege."

Melissa says getting this "bucket list" news during the holiday season makes it extra special.

"I have many blessings to count, and Jeopardy! is certainly on that list high on the list," she says.

The 2024 Tournament of Champions, the pinnacle of "Jeopardy!" competition, tapes in early February.

Melissa says she's definitely a little nervous, but she's practicing her buzzer skills!