A Portland woman will return to "Jeopardy!" Monday night to defend her victory. Credit: Carol Kaelson / Jeopardy! via AP

Susan McMillan of Portland swept away the competition on Friday night’s episode of “Jeopardy!” and emerged victorious.

McMillan, a professional Arabic translator and former Kennebec Journal reporter, relied on her experiences and knowledge of national parks to correctly answer two Daily Double questions, as well as the Final Jeopardy question, the Portland Press Herald reported.

McMillan took the 50-question test to qualify for the show in April 2020, and filmed Friday’s episode in February of this year. A lifelong “Jeopardy!” fan, she has watched the show since childhood, and was hopeful that she could make it on the show after hearing about the late Alex Trebek’s battle with pancreatic cancer.

The episode that she starred in was hosted by Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is one of a number of guest hosts who have temporarily filled the hosting responsibilities of the show after Trebek’s death in November.

To prepare for the challenge, McMillan focused on identifying the most common hints, and was rewarded after answering several questions about capitals correctly in the first round. She also identified categories other contestants tended to avoid and rounded out her knowledge of more obscure topics.

“You learn a lot by rewatching the episodes,” McMillan told the Sandusky Register. “You see certain topics come up all the time. And I noticed people tend to avoid categories that are about things like opera, ballet and classical music. I said, ‘OK, let me just learn a little bit more about those topics, and I can have an advantage.’”

McMillan’s love of national parks — she has visited 25 of the 62 parks scattered across the country — carried her to victory Friday night. She correctly identified John Muir, who founded the Sierra Club, when asked during Final Jeopardy who first speculated Yosemite Valley was formed by glacial erosion.

After wagering $10,000 in the final round, McMillan finished the game with a reward of $35,600, which “Jeopardy!” matched to donate to charity. The second place finisher was left with $201 at the end of the game.

McMillan returned to “Jeopardy!” on Monday night to defend her victory.

Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is a journalism and anthropology student at the University of Maine, and will graduate in May. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley and staying active in the Maine...