Georgia native Victoria Groce on how she won 2024 ‘Jeopardy!’ Masters

2001 University of Georgia graduate lived in metro Atlanta until 2005
Victoria Groce, a Georgia native and UGA grad who spent her formative years in Cobb County, took home the Trebek Trophy and the $500,000 grand prize on May 22 episode of the 2024 "Jeopardy!" Masters tournament. Photo courtesy of Eric McCandless/Disney

Credit: Courtesy photo/Disney

Credit: Courtesy photo/Disney

Victoria Groce, a Georgia native and UGA grad who spent her formative years in Cobb County, took home the Trebek Trophy and the $500,000 grand prize on May 22 episode of the 2024 "Jeopardy!" Masters tournament. Photo courtesy of Eric McCandless/Disney

In 1996 and 1997, Victoria Groce competed on WSB-TV’s long-running high school trivia show “Hi Q” twice representing Walton High School in Marietta. Her team won both times.

This past Wednesday, Groce was on TV again, this time in a much larger venue, pocketing $500,000 in the 2024 “Jeopardy!” Masters Tournament.

The 43-year-old Macon native, who spent her formative years in Cobb County, dominated the field of elite trivia champs including powerhouse 2023 Masters winner James Holzhauer.

“I’ve been emotionally really overwhelmed in a good way,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution two days after the finale aired.

Nicknamed “The Queen,” Groce effectively prepped for her “Jeopardy” win by participating in many even tougher trivia competitions in recent years. She has finished in the top 10 each of the past four years in the World Quizzing Championship tournaments. She also did well in the International Quizzing Championships, winning the national team competition and the pairs competition in 2023.

Her success in the quizzing world caught the attention of ABC producers of “The Chase,” a quiz show where she played one of the “chasers” along with “Jeopardy” powerhouses Holzhauer and Brad Rutter during season three.

Earlier this year, “Jeopardy” invited Groce to its Invitational Tournament, in which she outlasted 26 past champions and fan favorites to win $100,000 last month. This victory gave her an automatic slot to compete with eight of the best players in “Jeopardy” history in the Masters tournament, which aired on ABC this month.

She was not an obvious favorite coming into the competition in part because she hadn’t touched a “Jeopardy” buzzer since 2005, the longest gap of anybody in the Masters pool of contestants.

But for Groce, it was like riding a bike. She had built up an extra two decades of information in her brain and forged the necessary mental acuity to barrel through multiple rounds. Her broad and deep well of knowledge also enabled her to buzz in more answers than most of her rivals, helping her accumulate points when she needed them.

At the same time, she isn’t the type of person to brag.

“I don’t think you can win any tournament without a certain amount of luck,” she noted. “They were all hard fought games. I hit a lot of Daily Doubles that I knew. And I knew enough to take shots at a lot of questions.”

She sees herself as “a weird mix of intensely competitive and not even a little bit. If I am playing in a competition, I’m very good at figuring out a strategy and staying focused. But I’m not compulsively competitive.”

Groce first appeared on “Jeopardy” in 2005 when she was just 24 years old. She knocked off a 19-day champ, David Madden, winning $22,801, then lost her next game after missing the Final Jeopardy question.

Nearly 20 years later, Groce said she barely recalls her brief time on the show.

“It was a total blur,” she said. “My daughter was very young. Then my husband moved up to Pittsburgh for a job. I left my daughter with my parents for a couple of days and flew to Los Angeles. I was in and out in 30 hours.”

Groce has suffered from intense migraine headaches in recent years. She recently stepped down from her most recent job as an editorial assistant at a scientific journal.

The $500,000, she said, came at the right time.

“This is a level of financial security that I am incredibly grateful for,” she said.

The game show also contributed $100,000 to her favorite charity: Partners in Health, which provides free health care in some of the poorest areas of the world.

Groce, who has lived in Pittsburgh since 2005, was born in Macon and she said she began answering “Jeopardy” questions at age three. “When I was a kid, I couldn’t get enough of anything about the human body or medicine or animals. So I’d be excited to answer those,” she said.

By the time her family moved to Marietta when she was eight, she was active in academic bowl and kept on competing through college at the University of Georgia. When she made it to “Jeopardy” the first time in 2005, she was identified on the show at the time as a musician in Decatur. She and her husband owned a home there while she was a pianist. “I mostly did weddings and cocktail parties,” she said.

Her unquenchable thirst for knowledge is what has kept her going. She mentioned during one “Jeopardy” episode that she was into knitting so to watch a Danish knitting show, she spent a year learning Danish.

James Quintong, a former Atlantan and friend of Groce’s for more than 20 years, said she prepped well for this tournament.

“Her wins were only considered an upset by those who only knew her from her appearance in 2005,” said Quintong, who also won a game of “Jeopardy” the same year Groce first participated on the show. “Otherwise, as long as she had any control of the buzzer, anyone in the quizzing world knew she was going to be the one to beat. It was great she got the ultimate second chance.”