Uh, Dan Pawson, from Allston, Massachusetts.
How has being a Jeopardy! champion changed your life?
Uh, winning on Jeopardy! was a nice relief. Um, we had a baby coming, and, uh, a nice gigantic load of, uh, student loans, and so it took a lot of the pressure off, uh, of that, so we were able to life our life, y'know, the way we wanted to, and, uh... So it was--it was a relief.
What is the most common question people ask about your time on Jeopardy!?
Uh, the most common question I get, uh, when people find out I was on the show is what I think a lot of people get, which is "What was Alex like?" Um, and, I tend to tell them, uh, pretty much what everybody--they--they all ask me, y'know, "Is he"--y'know--"He seems kind of pompous." And, he's not, and we all know it's a--it's an act, and he's very--he's very nice when we have those end-of-, uh, -show chats.
What have you learned that will help you in the tournament?
Uh, I learned that when somebody else is really smart next to you, you can look really dumb, because there'll be a lot of questions that everyone knows the answer to, and they're just a little bit faster than you. Um, so that gets a little frustrating, but just, uh, just stay calm, and, just, uh, y'know, play your game, and good things will happen.
Has anyone recognized you from your Jeopardy! appearance?
I get recognized for a while. Uh, everybody--I work in a pretty big building--I work in a--the state legislature--so pretty much everybody there knew who I was, and asked, "What's Alex like?" Um, and then, it hasn't happened much over the last, uh, last few months, except when my repeats came on, on the weekends. And then all of a sudden, "Hey! What's Alex like?" again.
Will playing Jeopardy! in Las Vegas affect your wagering?
[Laughs] Well, uh, I am a--a poker player, so, um, I've got a pretty good amount of disclipline about how much to bet, and, uh, and that--so hopefully I'll be able to, uh, avoid the bright lights and just--and just do it right.
Place your bets and tune in!
How did you feel going into the finals?
Well, I knew--I mean, Larissa's an in--an incredible player, um, and I just know I had to keep it--I was just trying to get a little bit of a lead. Um, but she got the Daily Doubles and she got ahead, so I just, y'know, crossed my fingers and--and prayed that she got it--that she made a mistake in Final Jeopardy! And, uh, [quick sigh of relief] whew! Heh! [Additional reply edited out]
How did you determine your Final Jeopardy! wager?
Um, I did the math, and she had about--if she had, um, done--if we'd both done nothing, she had about, like, a $4,700 lead. So, uh, I bet a little bit more than that. I had a lot of--of wiggle room, uh, either way, so I just put, like, seven--it was--it was enough to cover a math mistake by me, so...
Did playing in Las Vegas persuade you to take more risks?
[Laughs] Well, I mean, the thing with Larissa is that she's a--a huge bettor on the Daily, uh, Doubles. I was gonna--to keep up with that I was gonna have to bet, uh, a ton anyway. So I think, uh, I think it was the people a little bit more than the town that forced some of the big wagers.
Which categories were the most challenging?
Uh, I think in the--in my first game here, I had, uh, one on ETIQUETTE, and then in the next round, one on, uh, A DAMSEL IN A DRESS. These were not wheelhouse categories for me. FLOORING was a nice little one, uh, here, so... Y'know, but I was lucky enough to get a baseball category, and... so... It--it was--it was okay.
What was the best part of your tournament experience?
Could I not say the $250,000, is that it? [Chuckles] Um, the people here are all, uh, fantastic. Not just--I mean, the staff on Jeopardy!, uh, are--are great, but all the people that we've been playing against, they're all the nicest people, and just spending, uh, y'know, the last few days with them has been really a lot of fun.
We hear your wife is in the contestant pool. What advice do you have for her?
Well, my wife's in the contestant pool, and, uh, y'know, we're just waiting for her to get the call too. And she's really smart, she'll do great. And, uh, so we're--we're real hopeful. [Edit] I mean, I would help, uh, my wife prepare by just telling her to study. Y'know, there are things that come up every time. Uh, world capital cities come up, uh, every time. And so if you can just cover some of the--uh, British royalty comes up, um, every time--so if you can just cover some of the basics that always get always get over, you're--you're way ahead of the game.
Would you like to challenge your wife in a future Tournament of Champions?
[Laughs] If they'll let me play again, I'll do anything!
You're in Vegas, baby! How will you celebrate?
Well, our flight's at 7:40 tomorrow morning; I don't think I'm gonna see my bed tonight.
Congratulations to Dan & all of the 2009 Tournament of Champions contestants!