Dennis Coffey, seen behind the bar at Duffy’s Bar & Grill on Jan. 15, is a three-time “Jeopardy!” champion – at least. He appears again on Wednesday night. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Maine’s newest television celebrity, a bartender from Old Orchard Beach, won his third consecutive “Jeopardy!” contest on the show that aired Tuesday night, a victory that put his total winnings at $51,203.

Dennis Coffey, who tends bar at Duffy’s Tavern & Grill in Old Orchard Beach, correctly answered the final “Jeopardy!” question, outwagering his nearest opponent, Samantha Slama, a high school English teacher in Los Angeles.

Unlike in Monday night’s show, when Coffey had to surge from behind to win, Tuesday’s contest was very close. Coffey, Slama and Steve Schiraldi, a data analyst from Arlington, Virginia, entered the final round within a few thousand dollars of each other.

“It is still anyone’s game,” host Alex Trebek said.

Tuesday’s Final “Jeopardy!” question fell under the category of Classic Movies: “This 1939 film was loosely based on Senator Burton Wheeler, victim of a sham investigation for looking into the Justice Department.” Coffey and Slama gave the correct answer, which was “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” starring James Stewart.

Coffey admitted that he nearly lost Monday night to Traci Mack, a competitor from California who led for most of the show. He said the on-stage pressure, which may have thrown Mack off her game, is much greater than viewers realize. Matt Neff finished third on that show.

“These guys had me on my heels for most of Monday’s show and I had to use every means at my disposal to stay poised enough to come out on top,” Coffey wrote in a post Tuesday on his Facebook page.

In a second post, Coffey said, “Traci Mack. An awesome Jeopardy player.”

Coffey won his first match on Friday night’s show, in which he faced off against two librarians. His victory Monday night aired during a watch party at Duffy’s, where Coffey tended bar while more than 100 friends and restaurant regulars cheered him on. He kept a low profile Tuesday night, watching the show from his aunt and uncle’s home.

“I don’t know how I keep pulling these wins out,” Coffey said when reached Tuesday evening. He said he’s not an elite player and has been slow to push the buzzer that lets Trebek know the player wants to answer a question.

Coffey won $12,001 Tuesday, edging out Slama, who won $11,400. Wednesday’s show will start at 7:30 p.m. on WMTW-TV.

The 54-year-old bartender has lived in Old Orchard Beach for most of his life, graduating from Old Orchard Beach High School in 1983. He is not the first bartender to have done well on “Jeopardy!”. New York City bartender Austin Rogers won more than $400,000 in 13 shows in 2017 and went on to play in the show’s Tournament of Champions and All-Star games.

Coffey is a longtime fan of “Jeopardy!” and had applied to be a contestant three previous times.

 

 

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