Though Michael Pascuzzi placed second during Thursday’s episode of Jeopardy, he went home with a new fiancée!
The resale store manager from Orlando, Florida, proposed to his girlfriend, Maria Shafer, during the contestant introduction portion of the show. “I just wanted to say one quick thing, and ask Maria Shafer right there. If she would make me a winner today and marry me. Will you marry me?” Pascuzzi asked as the camera panned to his teary-eyed partner, who replied, “Yes of course!”
Host Alex Trebek jokingly said, “I was about to say we’ll have the answer to that question right after this commercial break.”
“That would be… what is yes?” Shafer said mimicking the show’s style before the crowd cheered in applause.
Though he lost to returning champion Evelyn Rubin, Trebek ended the show saying, “Great day for us and a great day for Michael.”
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Shafer later joined her new fiancé on stage and the couple celebrated with a big hug and kiss.
“The proposal was actually planned about 15 minutes before the show started taping. The idea came up in the green room and the team at Jeopardy! were fantastic – they helped make it happen so perfectly,” Pascuzzi tells PEOPLE.
“Maria had no idea at all and was completely surprised. We haven’t made wedding plans yet because we didn’t tell anyone. We kept it a secret after the taping, until the big reveal during the show. Our friends and family found out at the same time while watching the show itself. And it was entirely worth the wait!” he says.
Pascuzzi arranged the unforgettable moment with the assistance of the show’s contestant coordinator Corina Nusu, according to the Orlando Sentinel, which also reported that Pascuzzi asked the show, “See if Alex wants to marry us. We’ll come out here!”