Lifestyle & Human Interest

In Honor of Alex Trebek, 18-Year-Old 'Jeopardy!' Winner Writes $10,314 Check for Cancer Research


Lots of people enjoy watching game shows like “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!,” but few have the specific skill set needed to make them a competitive contestant.

Avi Gupta was one of those viewers, and he enjoyed watching the trivia shows with his grandma. Curious, he decided to take an online “Jeopardy!” test, according to an article by Oregon Health & Science University.

A short while later, he was invited to participate in the version of the show that featured teen participants.

In June 2019, he went on to win the Teen Tournament and the $100,000 grand prize.

“Being on the show was something everyone imagines, but something you’d never think would happen,” he said, according to OHSU. “It was like stepping into my TV. It was a dream come true.”

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“I think growing up and watching ‘Jeopardy!’ shaped the curiosity in me,” he added. “Alex Trebek was someone who always consistently stood for the importance of facts and knowledge.”

Having spent time with the man himself and the show growing up, the news of Trebek’s cancer diagnosis hit Gupta especially hard.

“When I heard of his diagnosis, I was devastated,” he admitted. “Not because I knew him personally, but because he’s played a big role in my life and the lives of millions of Americans.”

But instead of merely sending his best and going on his way, Gupta decided to use some of his grand prize winnings to help the cause.

“When I heard of Alex’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis, I couldn’t think of a better organization to partner with and raise awareness with than Dr. Druker and the Knight Cancer Institute,” he said. “I think scientists at the Knight Cancer Institute are winning this battle against cancer. We need to help them do more.”

“I was inspired to give by Alex Trebek, the host of ‘Jeopardy!’ and someone I’ve looked up to my whole life,” he added in a video on Twitter.

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The young man chose to give to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute for pancreatic cancer research, and picked a very specific donation amount: $10,314 — $10,000 in itself is a very generous donation, especially for someone currently in college, but the $314 tagged on was a nod to Pi, his favorite number and his math and science interests.

“I feel very lucky to be in a position to contribute these funds of my own at the age of 18 and to use this platform to raise awareness,” he said. “We’ve all known someone who’s been affected by cancer. My hope is to bring everyone together to raise awareness, as well as funds, for early detection research.”

He added that he acknowledges all the opportunities he’s had in life, and is happy to give back in this particular way, especially to honor Trebek. He’s inspired others to start donating, too, and the director of the Knight Cancer Institute, Dr. Brian Druker, expressed his excitement for what the future holds.

“What a remarkable young man and what a great gesture,” Druker said, according to WBNS. “We hope it inspires lots and lots more people.”

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