Montclair Surgeon Mina Le Takes a Stab at ‘Jeopardy!’

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Published May 11, 2020
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The Montclarion
Mina Le poses with Alex Trebek on the set of "Jeopardy!" Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Before the chaos of COVID-19, when The Montclarion was still based on campus, the editors had a tradition of watching, “Jeopardy!” together on production days. It was a great way for the staff to bond, as well as show off my own mental prowess.

When I saw that Mina Le, an ear, nose and throat surgeon from Montclair, New Jersey, was going to be on the game show, I jumped on the opportunity to write the article.

Le was a contestant on season 36 of “Jeopardy!” The episode aired on April 28, 2020.

As the contestants were introduced, Le posed with one hand on her hip, the other on her head. It is not often that “Jeopardy!” contestants pose for the camera, so it was clear that viewers were in for a good time.

Le drew her name in Scrabble letters on her podium. This was not a random artsy choice, but a display of her hobby. Le participates in Scrabble tournaments and is an expert player. She has competed in 13 different states and one Canadian province.

Alex Trebek, the “Jeopardy!” host, asked Le if she could make any money in the Scrabble competitions.

“Yeah, but not as much as on here,” Le said.

As the game began, the first categories were announced. The contestants were able to choose from “A Landmark Address,” “Snopes Says No,” “Body Part AKA,” “Silent C,” “MLB Single Season Records” and “What’s My Airline?”

Le took the lead by the start of the first commercial with $2,600. She did particularly well in the “Body Part AKA” and “MLB Single Season Records” categories. I was happy to see that Le was serving as a good representative of Montclair, New Jersey.

After the commercial break, things seemed to go downhill. Le found the first daily double and lost $2,000 with her incorrect answer. The loss put her in last place as the game moved to Double Jeopardy.

The titles in this round were surprisingly humorous. “Barack Obama’s Reading List,” “How Now Double Vowel,” “Religious ‘Ism’s” and “DJ Jazzy Jeff and the French Prince,” were the new categories.

It was a strong round for Le. She regained the lead with $10,400 as they went into Final Jeopardy. The topic was “1950s Films.”

Le put all of her money on the line for her guess and was wrong. For all her ups and downs throughout the game, Le left with nothing.

It was a great episode. I like when the questions stump me, because I can learn from my mistakes. I got the same answer as Le for Final Jeopardy, surprisingly enough, so I felt her disappointment with getting the wrong answer.

Watching “Jeopardy!” again felt like I was back in The Montclarion office. I usually don’t watch the show on my own as it’s certainly more fun to watch and battle with friends for the right answer.

This episode reminded me of the good times in the office, racing against Thomas Neira, the entertainment editor, on movie questions. He would always get the answer first.

I am pleased that in my moment of nostalgia, I got to watch a member of the Montclair, New Jersey community take a stab at winning on “Jeopardy!”

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