A junior from Southern Adventist University from Avon Park, Florida...

Hans von Walter

What's more difficult, preparing for finals or for Jeopardy!?
Uh, preparing for Jeopardy!, 'cause preparing for finals, I at least know how to navigate around my teachers.

What will you do with your winnings?
Well, with my winnings, I really hope to either do something really crazy, like go to the 2012 Olympics, or something really boring, like save up for medical school.

Are you going to put "Jeopardy! contestant" on your resume?
I'm totally gonna put being on Jeopardy! on my resume for med school. I think that's--[claps] my ticket there!

Where do you hope to be in ten years?
Uh, in ten years, I will probably still be in school, uh, doing my residency, but hopefully I'll be a doctor, and I'll have a couple of cool life experiences under my belt.

2010-B College Championship 2nd runner-up (semifinalist by wildcard): $25,000 + a Nintendo Wii + the Wii Jeopardy! game.

Jeopardy! Message Board user name: hansvon

Hans won $60,600 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire on 2012-10-26.

Hans won $9,550 on Wheel of Fortune on 2016-01-20.

Hans won $5,000 on Match Game on 2019-06-12.


Hans von Walter
Southern Adventist University

November 19, 2010
After one of the most on-cloud-nine lunches I’d ever had with Erin and Sam, there I sat staring the 2-game finals in the face. I decided to do exactly what I had done during the semifinalists, buzzing-wise; apparently, though, whatever Sam and Erin had decided to do was just better. In my first game, we all laughed off an early triple in-the-hole moment, but somehow, I was just never able to recover. As I watched Sam and Erin speed away from me while I sat there in the hole, I grew more and more tense; I was slowly forgetting to relax, and how that had helped me tremendously in the semifinals. With an epic score of negative $6,000, I watched in pain as Sam and Erin missed a Final Jeopardy! I knew before Alex had finished reading the question.

And you know what? Something about that game slapped me in the face with a little dose of, “Hans, you’re never going to play this game again. HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE.” And with that, I entered the final game, rather ironically, in high spirits, despite sitting on a $0 subtotal. I felt myself once again loosening up and just plain having fun, and sure enough, I was able to keep right up with the two buzzer demons on either side of me. It felt great to hit another True Daily Double, as well as pull “quarks” out of somewhere deep and dark for another quick $4,000.

Even though I ended up in third place, I was so proud of myself for recovering from the dismal first game and ending on such a good note. I was so ecstatic for Erin, my fellow quarterfinalist, and Sam, my fellow Raleigh auditionee, that the fact that I’d lost never once registered in my mind. I was, frankly, more of a winner for being given the opportunity to meet these amazing people and being able to live out a lifelong dream than for any dollar amount I won.

At this point, no one but my family who was in the audience knows about the results of my experience, and I am literally bursting to share the excitement with everyone. My school has responded in such a positive way, and I can definitely see the pride in the faces of everyone happy to see our school get a chance to shine in the national spotlight. I am so thankful for all the help and support from that I received from everyone: my mom for being my cheerleader, my dad for always being there, my older sister for being an amazing role model, the rest of my family for being such a positive influence on me, my friends for never leaving my side, my church for always providing a source of community and support, the people on the Jeopardy! message boards for their overflow of advice to aspiring contestants, and God for sending me blessings I do not deserve. Now as I sit here a few weeks later with my episodes on deck to air, I can’t help but declare my two days on the set of Jeopardy! as the best experience of my life so far. I came away from the experience with 15 new friends that I still joke around and keep in touch with through the magic of Facebook, and who were really just the most amazing group of students ever assembled. During one of the episodes, Alex mentioned how our group had a certain “esprit de corps”; the absurdity of that phrase stuck with us so much that it became our unofficial nickname.

I don’t know what my plans are for the near future at this point. I recently also received my MCAT score, which I was quite happy with, and so with this Jeopardy! experience also recently happening, I can’t help but think I’ve hit a certain milestone in my life. I’m looking to see if it would be a positive option for me to leave next school year as a student missionary to some foreign country, or if I should continue my march toward medical school. One thing is for sure, I’ve already heard rumors of a summer reunion among us contestants; you can bet that I’ll be on the first plane to meet up with my esprit!

November 16, 2010
With only two “quarter final” games down, I was already third in the Wild Card standings. I knew it would just take one trio of excellent players to knock me out of the running and boom, there’d go my lifelong dream, gone in a flash. But game after game I watched as one person would dominate while the others would fall just short of catching my total. At that point, the only person more stressed out than I was probably Kyle, since he sat in fourth place and he, too, was kicking himself for not making a large enough wager. But, sure enough, that agonizing day of waiting ended, and there I sat as a Jeopardy! College Championship semifinalist! I was ecstatic. My family was ecstatic. My high school principal, who flew in from Georgia to watch me play but unfortunately only attended the afternoon tapings and missed my game, was ecstatic when the semifinalist announcements were made.

After an evening of mini-celebration with my family, and after barely squeaking by with a Wild Card spot, I was ready to accept my fate and enjoy my $10,000. That was more money than I’d ever even dreamed of having all at one time, and the fact that I would get to play at least one more round of my favorite game show ever was exhilarating. In other words, I was completely zen about Day 2. The other contestants, the contestant coordinators, Alex, Johnny, everyone had already made this the experience of a lifetime for me, so anything from here on out was just going to be icing on the cake.

Once again, I only had to wait through one game before undergoing my own torture. This time I’d be stirred into the pot of trivia with Ellen and Steve, both of whom had had very impressive quarterfinal games. I tweaked my buzzer strategy a little bit from the day before, choosing instead to read ahead and concentrate on the last word and when Alex would say it.

And just like that, things slowly started to come together. A few wheelhouse categories in geography, the Oscars, and history came up that really helped me get some momentum going. An early True Daily Double really helped lift my spirits, and I found myself in a good lead going into the second round. I remembered what had happened yesterday, though, so I treaded with caution. Another thing I noticed was that I had really loosened up compared to the day before; there I was making jokes during Daily Doubles, and I was sincerely having so much fun! I couldn’t believe it as the round ended and I looked up and saw that I had a lock going into Final Jeopardy! Utterly astonished. I gave Steve and Ellen a hug not just for a great game but also for just how awesome they were. Seriously, the camaraderie among us contestants was building exponentially, and there was no stopping it.

And there I was, a Finalist! Sure, everyone dreams of being the next Ken Jennings, but it’s something truly special when you see a dream gradually manifest itself as reality before your eyes.

November 9, 2010
I had a minor scare on Saturday when a delayed flight in Chattanooga bumped me to a later connection in Detroit. As luck would have it, I ended up being bumped to first class without even knowing it until I got on the plane! The rest of the weekend was spent getting some rest, equalizing with the jet lag, and spending some time with my family. It was an ominously eerie feeling knowing that my other competitors were in the very same building.

Monday morning, when I went down to the lobby to meet the other contestants for the first time, I could immediately tell that there was something extremely special about this group. Sure, we had all just met, but for some reason the way the group hit it off almost felt like we’d known each other before. In fact, I actually DID know one person from before; I had competed against Olivia Colangelo at the National Geographic Bee back in middle school. Talk about a small world of trivial academic competitive sports! On the bus ride to the studio, I finally met the delightful Maggie, whom I’d somehow manage to miss after three auditions in a space of six months. We were greeted at the studio by Robert, who prepped us for our stories. There were contracts to be signed, makeup to be put on, and all that jazz, but I knew deep down what we were all waiting for.

Finally the moment came to walk out on stage, and it literally felt like walking into church; all 16 of us were quiet and in solemn awe as the familiar six-by-six grid and three contestant lecterns loomed before us on the colorfully blue set. We chattered excitedly as we waited to be called up to do our individual interviews and promos; “I can’t believe I get to play Jeopardy! today,” I thought. The rehearsal game went smoothly enough; Glenn made for a great host to loosen us up, and a few technical glitches here and there kept us on our toes while still laughing. It was interesting handling the signaling device for the first time. Even to this day, I still cannot say what is the best formula for ringing in, other than having some sort of consistent strategy and sticking to it, along with praying for a little bit of luck. It was during the rehearsal game that I realized, wow, I am among a VERY elite group of young people. As we finished all the pre-game formalities, I could tell that that bond that I had earlier noticed in the lobby was profusely growing among us contestants.

Backstage, we popped in the first movie as the first contestants were announced. With bated breath, I listened as the names Steve, Sid, and Olivia were called out. Whew. First is always difficult. But now came the grueling wait. And let me tell you, the first half-hour of Monty Python never felt so long. Thankfully, that was all the agony I had to endure, as Maggie came back in to announce the next three contestants: Erin, Lea, and me! Oh boy. This was it. We got ourselves psyched and prettied up by the makeup people, and after a hearty applause from the rest of the contestants waiting, we made our way toward the stage of fate.

I caught out of the corner of my eye my family sitting in a row; I was relieved that they had made it since the last time I’d seen them was the night before, as they had decided to stay at my sister’s apartment in Los Angeles instead. I managed to push them out of my head for the rest of the game. And what a game. I still could not believe that I was playing Jeopardy! I still could not believe that Alex Trebek and Johnny Gilbert were announcing MY name and talking about MY little school. I was glad that Alex went with the story about my name for our interview, I’ve always loved telling it. It felt great to be in the lead after the first round, but after that, something happened. I imagine it was some combination of me getting too overconfident and Lea and Erin lighting a fire on their signaling devices, but either way, as I found myself going into Final Jeopardy! trailing, I knew my best bet probably lay in a Wild Card spot. I wagered enough so that I knew I’d be in what I thought was a safe area but also left a little just in case the Final Jeopardy! clues that week ended up being wicked hammerhouses. And, just like that, the game was over in a blur! I couldn’t believe that I had potentially just played my last game of Jeopardy! ever. While I was still beaming from experience, my thoughts turned to stress: was my score high enough? Why didn’t I bet more? What happened to me during that second round? These thoughts would haunt me the rest of the day.

November 5, 2010
Hello! My name is Hans von Walter. I am a junior biochemistry major at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee, right outside of Chattanooga. We are a small school with a lot of heart in the middle of nowhere, and I feel very proud and excited to be representing SAU in the 2010 Jeopardy! College Championship. I’ve always had a great interest in trivia; a few old teachers of mine like to remind me of my once insatiable appetite for asking questions. Jeopardy! would always be on in our household when my uncle was around, and naturally I took a liking to it. I still remember the very first clue I got right that stumped all three contestants. It had something to do with naming a breed of African dog famous for not having a bark; somewhere that week I’d read about the basenji dog. My love of trivia expanded into other areas later on, such as when I participated in National Geographic’s annual geography bee (winning state my 8th grade year) and, later, the AAA Travel High School Challenge. In addition to trivia-ing it up my whole life, I also spent my time playing the piano, cello, violin, trombone, and steel drum, as well as participating in a variety of mission trips to places like Ecuador and Belize. College came and was a whirlwind of activity in and of itself, and I found myself participating in College Bowl, orchestra, the Pre-Med Club, and SonRise, an annual campus-wide interactive Easter production. Now I sit here in my third year of college, having just taken the MCAT and looking forward to what is to come after college, particularly medical school.

The online test could not have come at a more inconvenient time: the season premiere of Lost, of course! Nevertheless, I forfeited those precious fifteen minutes of suspense for a precious fifteen minutes of questions. I felt like I did well, and since I had just taken the adult test a week before as well as both the college and adult tests the year before, I felt like I was getting a pro at his.

A couple of months later, I got a double whammy of emails inviting me to both an adult audition in Miami and a college audition in Raleigh. Along with MCAT studies, a trip to Hawaii, and a performance at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the summer was shaping up to be pretty busy. In May, I went to my college audition two weeks after my adult audition, and I was pleased to see a couple of familiar faces who remembered me from previously (Robert and Corina); I took that as a good omen. The 50-question test wasn’t bad, although a few headslappers came afterwards when talking to other students, of course. I made sure to speak up loudly during the mock game, and I had a great time chatting with Robert. We were told that the call could come at any time, and that we had to just wait and see. I left the audition feeling well. However, seeing as how this was my third audition in a space of six months, I was starting to tell myself that maybe this was going to be something I was going to have to be patient about.

Fast-forward to Thursday, September 16. I was sitting in animal physiology lab, and the professor had just started to explain the very complicated procedure we were about to tackle. I felt a vibration in my jeans, took a look at my phone, and saw a very unfamiliar number staring back at me. I thought, could it be? I answered. "Hi, is this Hans?” "Yes.” "Hi, Hans, this is Maggie calling from Jeopardy!, how are you today?” I think it took about ten seconds before I came up with a coherent response. After a few minutes of eligibility questions, I was formally invited to participate in the College Championship! She asked if I was busy, and I said I was in lab, but that I didn’t care! She told me to go ahead and get back to lab, gather myself, and that I could call her back later. When I went back in, the first person I told was my lab partner, since she was wondering why I disappeared all of the sudden. Somehow, someway, I got through that lab, and thus began a whirlwind month.

My friends were immensely helpful in my preparation, texting me questions that they thought of and asking me whatever random things they would find. I looked at lists online of various explorers, authors, poets, mythology, anything that I could get my hands on. Every day I would also run on the treadmill promptly at 7:30 while I watched Jeopardy!; I figured if I can answer the clues huffing and gasping for air, I can certainly do it under the lights in a calm studio. Bring it on, Trebek!

Hans appeared in the following 4 archived games:
#6025, aired 2010-11-19 Erin McLean vs. Hans von Walter vs. Sam Spaulding 2010-B College Championship final game 2.
#6024, aired 2010-11-18 Erin McLean vs. Hans von Walter vs. Sam Spaulding 2010-B College Championship final game 1.
#6022, aired 2010-11-16 Steve Greene vs. Ellen Eichner vs. Hans von Walter 2010-B College Championship semifinal game 2.
#6017, aired 2010-11-09 Erin McLean vs. Lea Tottle vs. Hans von Walter 2010-B College Championship quarterfinal game 2.

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