Though Jeopardy! has faced its fair share of controversy over the last year with hosting changes and some other weird ins and outs of the news cycle, they did have a heartwarming and important message delivered from one of its champions this week. Christine Whelchel, who had won four days in a row, came on the most recent episode looking quite a bit different than she had in the previous episodes. And this “stylistic” change was done with purpose and part of a proactive effort to bring a message to the millions of people who watch the show.
During the portion of the episode when the host gets to know the different contestants, Ken Jennings asked Whelchel about her appearance and how it had changed from the prior episode. Her response was a powerful reminder about the struggles people can face and how those aren’t always going to be front and center in the eyes of others. Essentially, Whelchel explained that she had taken off the wig worn in previous episodes in an effort to “normalize what cancer recovery looks like.” Check out what she had to say during this portion of Jeopardy! and what it means for those in a similar situation.
Jeopardy!, was of course, quick to highlight this powerful statement from Whelchel and it’s clearly a massively personal thing to share something like this on the show. While for some, this would seem like a small thing, removing a wig to show the reality of the fight against cancer, and the tolls recovery can take on the body, it simply isn’t. For many, these kinds of side effects take a massive emotional toll and altering a look in front of a national viewing audience really can’t be undersold.
Whelchel, to her credit, had completed a four-day run on the show and tallied more than $73,000 dollars in winnings in that stretch. It’s been a good year for contestants as well on the program considering the long-running game show just had one of the bigger winners in some time. Amy Schneider recently racked up some of the biggest numbers the show has ever seen. She completed a 40-day win streak that saw her total almost $1.4 million dollars. That puts her fourth all-time on the show’s regular season behind the aforementioned Jennings, James Holzhauer, and Matt Amodio.
And this story about Christine Whelchel and her choice to bring such a positive message on Jeopardy! comes during a season that’s seen the show definitely go through a rocky transition period. Following the tragic passing of iconic host Alex Trebek, the series struggled to find a suitable replacement. After hosting a star-studded celebrity “try-out”, they landed on producer Mike Richards for the role. But he was quickly dismissed after allegations of past inappropriate comments and behavior surfaced. That put current hosts Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings in the top spots, but it’s unclear what the show has planned long-term. Getting a strong and brave contestant like Whelchel on the program certainly helps.