An oil filtration business developer from Orlando, Florida...

Enrique Machado

Hey, Orlando. This is Enrique Machado from Longwood. Come in out of the sun and watch me on Jeopardy!

Season 26 1-time champion: $30,799 + $2,000.

Enrique Machado
September 16, 2009

I was in the middle of performing a live demonstration in the kitchen of Mad Anthony's, a micro-brewery in Elkhart, Indiana. Since my job requires me to travel and meet clients all over the USA, I am pretty much accustomed to receiving calls from everywhere.

Because each of my cell phones rang twice, I assume that this call must be really important. I actually pick of the phone during a brief lull in the demo and it is JEOPARDY! on the other end of the line! Oh man, this is it! "How'd you like to be on Jeopardy!?" asked the voice on the other end of the line. I'm thinking, "does a one legged duck swim in circles?"

"Heck yeah man!" I could hardly contain my excitement when Jeopardy man told me that I would be on during the first week of the new upcoming season. This was happening so fast.

This must have been Thursday afternoon. It was only the previous Friday that I had attended the "in person" audition in Miami, FL. During the audition, we weren't told how well or how badly we did. We were more or less told, "Don't call us, we'll call you. Oh, and if you haven't heard from us in 12-18 months, then try out again". In my mind, I was thinking, "if they call me at all, it might be a year or more." And yet, here I was less than a week later being told that I was going to be on the greatest game show on planet Earth!

Now, please remember that I'm in a restaurant kitchen trying to close a sale all the while. The general manager and the kitchen manager at the restaurant must have thought that I was nuts. Apparently, in my unbridled excitement, I started jumping up and down and doing a James Brown sort of slide around the floor!

My associate thought that my sudden madness must have certainly cost us that sale. On the contrary, the demo went great, we won the client, and I walked out of that kitchen just a little bit closer to fulfilling a lifelong dream.

"Dream" might actually sound sort of dopey. In 8th grade our teacher would actually make us play current events jeopardy and it was the funnest day of the week in class. The winner would get out of doing some homework and would get bragging rights for the week. Jeopardy! had just started being aired again in the mid 1980's and it was fun to try the grown up version at home while doing the Jr. High version at school. That's more than 20 years of watching Alex Trebek read out answers and questions and thinking, "man oh man how I'd love to be on that show!".

Show Preparation:

I obviously didn't have much time to study for the show. I figured that all the knowledge that I'd managed to acquire over 37 years had been enough to get me on the show. I wasn't sure if it was enough to win, but I know how my brain works and cramming isn't an effective method for me. If I started cramming my head with a bunch of "new stuff", I ran the risk of not being able to recall it quickly enough. So my preparation consisted of watching the show with a clicker pen in my hand.

First Impressions:

For its 26th season, Jeopardy! debuted a beautiful new set. It was almost surreal to actually be right there in the studio. I overheard another contestant say "this is just too cool!" My thoughts exactly. Soon we were up there doing the rehearsal with the famous signaling button. In rehearsal I went up against Stefan, the 5 time defending champ--a video game tester by profession. Although I could get in from time to time, I was thinking that that guy was way too fast! I started praying, "Oh Lord, please don't let me go in the first game and please don't let me go against this guy!"

So after rehearsals they announce the contestants for the first game. Right on cue, my name is called. I look up to the heavens because I know that I have my work cut out for me.

The Game:

"THIS . . . IS . . . JEOPARDY! An oil filtration business development manager from Orlando, Florida Enrique Machado!" Johnny Gilbert was saying my name!!! Then Alex came out and started the game. How exciting!

During the game I was actually somewhat surprised that I was getting in with some regularity. I was also surprised at how unbelievable nervous I was. This was manifested with some early misses on some fairly easy questions. The Kansas Comet . . . "Who is Brian Piccolo?" Website that allows you to save for college . . . "What is ugive?" Of course it's Gale Sayers and upromise! UGH!

I hoped that my nerves would calm down a bit and I could get into the flow of the game. I did begin to answer some questions, but my opponent was handling himself like a five time defending champ and he was smoothly racking up some big cash and putting some significant distance between himself and the others.

During the commercial breaks, I discovered that I was sweating quite a bit! The make up lady had to mop up my face and even reapply the spackle that made me half way presentable on television.

Alex Trebek is a trip! During the break just before the interview segment, he comes and says "Who is Greg Brady?" I suppose that they didn't have The Brady Bunch in Canada. Anyway, chatting with Alex was a hoot. I had to recount the story of the time that I went to a ball game and I was entered into a disco dancing competition. The competition was judged by the audience applause-o-meter and by Barry Williams (TV's Greg Brady). Despite the majority of the applause for my performance, I lose the competition and I had to settle for being the people's champion.

While recounting the story, I made a reference--both in name and in reprising one of his famous dance moves--to Deney Terrio. Alex told me that it was the first time in 26 years that anybody'd referenced my man Terrio!

The rest of the game and Double Jeopardy! was a blur. I did my best to keep it close and to make sure that the leader wasn't ahead of me by more than twice my dollar amount. I cannot recall one single question that I answered in the Double Jeopardy! Round. All I remember is that a few seconds later Double Jeopardy! was over and it was time for Final Jeopardy! I went in as the second place contestant. My deficit to the leader was significant, but not insurmountable. I badly wanted to win, but 2nd place seemed almost unavoidable. However, if I wanted to win, I had to bet a lot, get the question right and hope that the leader would either miss the question or not bet enough. That's a whole lot of ifs to hope for.

But yes, sometimes the stars and planets do magically come into alignment and sometimes the meek do indeed inherit the earth. Somehow I had won. I had earned a massive payday--a one day total of $30,799.

When the camera panned to me I felt a sudden urge to bust a move. Unfortunately, the only thing that came to mind was "the wave", how goofy. But the thrill of victory was such an outstanding feeling. It is simply impossible to overestimate how overpowering the wave of emotions was that came over me. My shirt was pretty much soaked and I felt as though I had been clenching every muscle in my body for an hour.

After I had a chance to come down off cloud 9 I was able to appreciate the whole wonderfulness of the entire situation. In 22 minutes I was able to accomplish something that meant a lot to me. Twenty-two minutes capped by a victory that I could brag about to my kids for the rest of my life. All smiles!

Aftermath:

I did learn little about myself during the week immediately after my appearance. My reign as Jeopardy! Champion lasted all of one game. If I'd answered the final Jeopardy! question correctly in the second game I would have won. And I figured out the answer about 4 seconds after time was up. Too late for me to make it two for two.

For the first several days after my appearances on the show, I was haunted by the near miss in Game 2. I focused on the loss more than on the spectacular victory in Game 1. But after looking at it in a more philosophical way, I began to appreciate that things happened just as they should. I accepted that Jeopardy! was just a game, that the other contestants were amazingly talented and competitive. I appreciated that I'd taken advantage of a chance of a lifetime and that I had enjoyed more success than most people ever will. And in the process I learned a lot about myself. And of course this is the type of knowledge that I might not have come by any other way--certainly not by studying Shakespeare, Geography, or Potent Potables!

Enrique appeared in the following 2 archived games:
#5747, aired 2009-09-15 Enrique Machado vs. Judy Nakamura vs. Dave Sutherland
#5746, aired 2009-09-14 Stefan Goodreau vs. Enrique Machado vs. Elisabeth Flynn Stefan Goodreau game 6. First game of Season 26. New...

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