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Toronto teacher on a Jeopardy! winning streak

Toronto Star logo Toronto Star 2018-07-17 Ilya Bañares - Staff Reporter
Alex Trebek posing for the camera: Michelle Cabral, a TCDSB teacher and coach of junior trivia, with Canadian Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek. © JEOPARDY! Michelle Cabral, a TCDSB teacher and coach of junior trivia, with Canadian Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.

A Toronto teacher is on a three-game winning streak on Jeopardy! and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

Michelle Cabral, who teaches at St. Mary Catholic School near Queen St. W. and Bathurst St., described the experience as “pretty overwhelming.”

“The whole experience has been above and beyond anything I thought it was going to be,” Cabral told the Star. “It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for years and years and years, virtually my whole life since I was old enough to do it.

“The fact that it’s lasted this long and the fact that I’ve had such support and amazing messages cheering me on … I didn’t think I was going to win.”

Cabral, a junior trivia team coach, has won three episodes thus far. In the most recently aired episode, she ran through an entire category by herself.

“I actually needed to put down my buzzer for a second to process what had just happened and then immediately realized, ‘Nope, the board’s still mine, I have to keep going and pick the next clue!’ and immediately picked it back up again,” she said.

She taped the first two shows on March 7 and went back to Los Angeles in early April to film the remaining episodes.

“I can’t say what the overall total is, but right now — if we’re going by the past three days — I have over $46,000 (U.S.),” Cabral said, or around $60,400 in Canadian dollars.

She also described meeting Canadian Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek as a great experience.

“We had just taken the written test and were getting ready for the mock game, and then this hush comes over the room. He walks in, I’m sitting in the back and I’m talking to the person next to me, and then the person on the other side tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘Shush’ … and I look and I see Alex Trebek,” Cabral said.

“I said ‘Holy cow!’ I didn’t say cow.”

Cabral said Trebek “really likes people from Canada coming and doing well, with that solidarity and camaraderie.”

Other recent Canadian contestants have won big. Last month, Ali Hasan, a teacher at Guildford Park Secondary School in Surrey, B.C., won $90,235 (Canadian). He later lost to Ontario lawyer Jordan Nussbaum.

Cabral’s message to the kids? “Don’t be afraid to be really passionate about stuff that you like. Don’t be afraid to want to learn more about particular things … Don’t be afraid of being intelligent and having a voice.”

Cabral’s fourth episode airs Tuesday evening. Canadian viewers can watch the show on Yes TV at 7:30 p.m.

Ilya Bañares is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @ilyaoverseas


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