The returning “Jeopardy!” champion from Portland won’t be coming back to defend his title for a second time after losing to a civil engineer Thursday evening.

Nathan Berger of South Portland, seen with host Alex Trebek, made his last appearance on “Jeopardy!” Thursday.  Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Nathan Berger, 38, a restaurateur and sommelier, finished in third place, losing to Shaun Buell, a civil engineer from Zachary, Louisiana, who won $24,801. Michelle Kantor Cohen, a voting rights attorney from Silver Spring, Maryland, finished second.

All three contestants correctly answered the Final Jeopardy question – “This word for high ranking officials comes from a metal used in 19th century military insignia” – Berger did not wager any money and finished a distant third. The correct answer was top brass.

Berger won $11,199 in his first appearance on the show Wednesday evening and will take home another $1,000 for finishing third.

Buell dominated the first round as well as the Double Jeopardy round, ending that round with $18,800 to Berger’s $5,600. Buell, who told host Alex Trebek he wanted to buy a Porsche with his winnings, wagered $6,001 on the Final Jeopardy question, bringing his total earnings to nearly $25,000.

Berger made it onto his favorite game show at nearly the last possible moment before production was halted indefinitely by the coronavirus pandemic. Berger, who recently moved to Portland, filmed his first appearance in Los Angeles on March 10, just days before the shutdown. Thursday night’s appearance was filmed the same day.

The show’s staff on March 10 was already taking precautions, sanitizing surfaces often and limiting the show’s audience to invited guests of the contestants. Trebek is fighting pancreatic cancer, and crew and guests were aware of the need to keep him safe from COVID-19.

Mainers have been doing well on the long running game show that Trebek has hosted since 1984. Tiffany Eisenhauer, a physician assistant from Freeport, appeared on one show in April, while Dennis Coffey, a bartender from Old Orchard Beach won three games and more than $52,000 in January. Jessica Garsed of Augusta, a medical librarian, won more than $53,000 during four shows in October.

Berger works as wine director for Eighty Ate Hospitality, a Maine restaurant group that includes Lio and Bao Bao Dumpling House in Portland and Tao Yuan in Brunswick.

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