Credit: Courtesy of CBS

In an unusual matchup on Jeopardy on Monday, May 15, 2023, two former champions competed against each other, including Professor Ben Chan who previously left the competition in April 2023. So, why is Ben Chan back on Jeopardy? We have the answer, below.

Created in 1984, Jeopardy is the popular quiz game show that is known for reversing the question-and-answer format. Contestants are provided with general knowledge clues in the form of answers, then they must identify the person, place, thing or idea that the clue describes, and their final answer must be in the form of a question. Each game consists of three rounds: Jeopardy!, Double Jeopardy! and Final Jeopardy!

After the death of the game show’s former host, Alex Trebek, from pancreatic cancer in November 2020, it was announced that Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory and Call Me Kat) and Ken Jennings (a former contestant) would co-host Season 38. However, Deadline reported on May 11, 2023, that Bialik refused to host the final week of Jeopardy Season 39 in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America Strike. As a result, Ken Jennings took over her role.

Each episode follows the same format; two new contestants are introduced who battle the defending champion, a contestant who has won the show at least once. But this didn’t happen on April 17, 2023. In an unprecedented situation, Ben Chan, an assistant professor of philosophy at St. Norbert College, was absent from the April 17, 2023, episode. He competed and won the game show on Wednesday, April 12, as well as the latter two episodes on April 13 and 14. Chan even expressed his excitement in an interview with FOX 11 after his win. “I never thought about what it would be like to win because I was really focused on having fun and preparing well, so it was kind of a relief/surprise, but it was great,” Chan told FOX 11.

But we didn’t see Chan again until Monday, May 15 when he returned to Jeopardy to defend his title. Why is Ben Chan back on Jeopardy and what caused him to leave in the first place? Keep reading to find out.

What happened to Ben Chan on Jeopardy?

Mayim Bialik as the host of Jeopardy!

What happened to Ben Chan on Jeopardy? Ben Chan was not a contestant on the Monday, April 17, episode like viewers had previously thought. At the beginning of the show, host Ken Jennings addressed the elephant in the room.

“Astute Jeopardy viewers will have already noticed that Johnny Gilbert, when he introduced our players, did not mention a returning champion and their winnings. Astute and loyal Jeopardy viewers will remember that the Friday, April 14, show ended with Ben Chan clinching his third runaway win,” Jennings said, according to TV Insider.

Jennings continued to the audience: “How do we solve this riddle? Well, as has happened only a few times in Jeopardy history, the returning champ found themselves unable to travel this week. What that means is, never fear, we’ll have Ben back on at a later date,” he explained “But it means that Toni, Daniel, and Madeleine are taking the stage all for the first time today. It’s a fresh start. No intimidating returning champ to deal with.” Instead, the episode featured three new contestants, including attorney Madeleine McKenna, writer Daniel Ciarrocchi and retired systems analyst Toni van Kampen.

Why is Ben Chan back on Jeopardy?

Jeopardy! game show

Why is Ben Chan back on Jeopardy? It turns out the Jeopardy contestant tested positive for COVID, which is why he was unable to continue on the show. “Before yesterday’s episode taped, I had tested positive for COVID; it was a very mild case, as you can see, I’m fine, most importantly, my buzzer finger is fine, so I’m excited to watch what happens over the next few weeks, see who I’ll be competing against on May 15th,” Chan told Good Day Wisconsin on April 18, 2023. Before he returned, he was sitting on winnings totaling $69,001.

On May 15, 2023, Chan made his much-anticipated comeback to Jeopardy, where he faced eight-time winner Hannah Wilson. He ended Wilson’s $229,801 run and extended his streak to four wins, which nearly doubled his earnings to $129,001. His fourth win also makes him eligible for the next Tournament of Champions. Chan will return to Jeopardy on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, to defend his title.

For more on primetime shows, check out our photo gallery on the best nighttime soaps ranked