“Jeopardy!” host Ken Jennings, left, with contestant Zach Wissner-Gross of...

“Jeopardy!” host Ken Jennings, left, with contestant Zach Wissner-Gross of Roslyn Heights. Credit: Jeopardy Productions Inc.

This story contains spoilers.

Roslyn Heights resident Zach Wissner-Gross competed on Wednesday night's "Jeopardy!" episode, testing his skill against returning champion Melissa Klapper and fellow contender Karen Morris.

He held his own throughout the neck-and-neck pace, which host Ken Jennings described as "a tight game." Wissner-Gross, 38, is vice president of math education at Brooklyn-based company Amplify Education Inc., which works with educators to create programs for grades K-12.

His first correct answer, delivered in the form of a question, came after the $800 clue in the "Long-lived critters" category: "Having a leg up on life, one of these pink birds named Greater got to 83 living at Adelaide Zoo."

His response? "What is a flamingo."

Wissner-Gross answered correctly once more in a literature category, but was soon tripped up by a clue in the "4-letter sports words" category: "Forwards in hockey come in 3 types: The center & a left & right this."

He said "What is forward" and appeared to realize immediately that the answer had several letters in excess of the correct response, subsequently buzzed in by Virginia veterinary student Morris: "What is wing."

Undeterred, Wissner-Gross continued with a math-related medical story, revealing that a few years ago he had back surgery and "everything went well. I had never been under general anesthesia. And my wife was with me and I was pretty nervous. So I told her, 'You'll know I'm really back from the anesthesia if you give me a really hard math problem and I solve it.' "

Wissner-Gross' wife followed his instructions and asked the post-op Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University graduate to solve a difficult math problem. "I yelled at her in this state. I said, 'That's impossible!' And I went right back to sleep. And I woke up an hour later, I still had the problem in my head, and I told her the answer."

"It turned out to be the right metric," said Jennings. "If it's impossible, you're still under anesthesia. ... That's a medical breakthrough I was not aware of."

The episode, which saw missed Daily Doubles from Morris and Klapper, a Pennsylvania professor, ended regular competition with Wissner-Gross in third place, with $7,200.

Going into "Final Jeopardy!" the category was "American novelists." The clue? "He served with an airman named Yohannan in World War II & despite what readers might think, he said he enjoyed his service."

Wissner-Gross answered correctly, "Who is Heller," for "Catch-22" author Joseph Heller. His zero-dollar bid let him keep his total.

But Klapper, who went into "Final Jeopardy!" in second place, also gave the right response, and finished with $16,700.

Morris, who had led going into the final round with $11,400, answered incorrectly, writing "Who is Hunter S. Thompson," and dropped down to third place after her $6,001 bid left her with only $5,399.

In the end, Klapper's finish gave her the win as a three-day champion and sent home the Long Island contestant and Morris.

Wissner-Gross' mother, Elizabeth, worked at Newsday as an editor and writer during the 1980s and '90s.

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