Patton Oswalt Thanks The Handmaid's Tale Author Margaret Atwood After 'Insane' Celebrity Jeopardy Upset

 Patton Oswalt on Celebrity Jeopardy!
Patton Oswalt on Celebrity Jeopardy!

Spoiler alert! This story discusses Celebrity Jeopardy’s third semifinal game, which aired January 26.

After quarterfinal rounds that basically saw Celebrity Jeopardy! contestants Patton Oswalt, Brendan Hunt, and Michael Cera destroy their competitors, many were excited to see what would happen when the three winners faced off against each other in the semifinal round. They didn’t disappoint, either, and even though the Ted Lasso actor seemed to be the quickest on the buzzer, some Daily Doubles kept the game close. So close, in fact, that it all came down to Final Jeopardy!, where Oswalt came from behind to advance to next week’s finals, and he had Margaret Atwood to thank for it.

Thank her he did, after Patton Oswalt answered Final Jeopardy!’s “Novels” clue: “‘Breeders, Wives And Unwomen’ was the headline of the New York Times’ 1986 review of this novel” — with the correct answer of "What is The Handmaid’s Tale?" His fellow players failed to do the same, and the victory that seemed out of reach for the comedian was suddenly his. No one was more shocked than Oswalt, who so eloquently reacted with a:

What?! Did I…? What the hell? That was insane. That was insane.

After Celebrity Jeopardy! host Mayim Bialik officially announced that he’d be facing Ike Barinholtz (MADtv, The Afterparty) and Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stand by Me) for the chance to win $1 million for their respective charities, she asked how Patton Oswalt felt after his big upset victory. Still in shock, he responded:

I do not feel anything right now. All my nerve endings are fused. I’m dead. Thank you, Margaret Atwood! Thanks for the dystopias!

Nobody could have predicted that the author of The Handmaid’s Tale novel — which inspired the series that can be streamed with a Hulu subscription — would be getting a shout-out on Celebrity Jeopardy! And for a good bit there, nobody was really predicting a Patton Oswalt victory either.

Brendan Hunt, who had previously made the player pool for the non-celebrity version of Jeopardy!, held the lead for most of the game, but Michael Cera had a strong Triple Jeopardy! round and bagged a couple of True Daily Doubles that kept the game from being a runaway. Going into Final Jeopardy!, Hunt had $31,200; Cera had $20,800; and Patton Oswalt had $12,300. Oswalt’s correct response doubled his score to $24,600, which was enough for the win, after Hunt lost $10,500 with the incorrect response of Heartburn. Cera hilariously lost all of his money when he answered, “What is Seabiscuit?”

Patton Oswalt’s performance in the semifinals may not have been the decimation that was his quarterfinal match against Torrey DeVitto and Candace Parker. The Sandman actor walked away with $54,400 to his competitors’ $3,200 and $1,920, respectively, so I have no doubt he’s a worthy opponent for the Celebrity Jeopardy! finals. Tune in to see who wins the $1 million at 8 p.m. ET Thursday, February 2, on ABC, and be sure to check out our 2023 TV schedule to see what premieres are headed our way soon.