Dennis Coffey, 54, behind the bar at Duffy’s Bar & Grill in Old Orchard Beach, where he works as a bartender. Coffey won his “Jeopardy!” match on Friday, taking home $21,601. He defends his title Monday night at 7:30 on WMTW TV. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

An Old Orchard Beach bartender and trivia fan officially earned a new title on Friday: “Jeopardy!” champion.

“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, left, with Dennis Coffey of Old Orchard Beach, who won his match broadcast Friday night. Coffey will defend his title Monday. Photo courtesy of “Jeopardy!”

Dennis Coffey, 54, won his first night on the renowned television quiz show by being the only contestant to correctly answer a question about how a member of the British royal family helped solve a mystery surrounding a murdered Russian czar and his family.

Coffey knew it was Prince Philip – husband of Queen Elizabeth – whose DNA helped investigators positively identify the remains of several members of the Romanov royal family found roughly a century after their murder. Philip is related to the Romanovs.

“It was surreal,” Coffey said Friday night after watching the show’s broadcast with about 100 people at his place of employment, Duffy’s Tavern & Grill in Old Orchard.

“I didn’t really know I was this popular, either,” he said with a laugh.

Coffey ended the night with $21,601 and, as “Jeopardy!” champion, will go on to compete in the following show. Because of a non-disclosure agreement, Coffey is prohibited from discussing the outcome of shows until they air on television.

A longtime “Jeopardy!” fan, Coffey applied to be a contestant three times before he finally landed a spot on the famous stage. In a recent interview before the show aired, Coffey said he believed his experiences behind the bar – in addition to his collegiate studies and his personal interests – helped him at trivia.

“I think bartenders are naturally good at trivia,” Coffey said. “People always want their facts checked or are asking for the latest sports news.”

A video posted on Facebook by a relative showed the moment that the crowd at Duffy’s realized that Coffey was the winner.

People in the tavern hollered and clapped as the television screen showed Coffey raising his fists in victory as host Alex Trebek acknowledged he had answered correctly. The video then shows people at Duffy’s hugging and smacking the champion on the back as the crowd chanted, “Dennis! Dennis! Dennis.”

Coffey said that it was “a blur” to be on the show, and that he even had trouble answering some of the questions on Friday. During the actual contest, he was struggling and actually “in the hole” at one point before surging back to capture the lead and the eventual win.

He described his two competitors, Lindsay Goldstein and Veronica Vichit-Vadakan, as “awesome” while Trebek was “very personable” and gentlemanly despite his current battle with cancer.

Coffey defends his title Monday at 7:30 p.m. on WMTW TV.

“I am going to be on the bar on Monday, and we’ll have the show on,” Coffey said. “So I’d say some come one, come all. And come early.”

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