What will you do with your winnings?
Well, with my winnings, um, I'm of course going to use some of it to pay for school, but I'd also like to get a fish tank and fill it with all the different fish from Finding Nemo.
Are you going to put "Jeopardy! contestant" on your resume?
Uh, I don't know! I was thinking of putting Jeopardy! on my resume, um, to hopefully help me get a job, um, but I don't know if it'll be the sole defining factor. I should hope that my skills would be more important than Jeopardy!
What is your dream category?
My dream category would be something involving music. Um, The Beatles, classic rock. Um, anything like that, I'd be really good at.
Where do you hope to be in ten years?
Um, in ten years, I'd really like to be on a research vessel somewhere, um, doing research out in the field. I'm a marine bio major, so I'm a really big fan of living at sea and doing research out there, so...
You just won the Jeopardy! College Championship! How does it feel?
[Erin jumps up and down behind her $100,000 podium, her trophy sitting beside her, her arms in the air, and laughs] This is amazing!
How did you determine your Final Jeopardy! wager?
Um, it--it was really nice to have a nice cushion of a lead, and it was really tough to wager, because I wanted to be able to win if I could, but then not have--not--not leave too much on the table, so the small wager was good, because I didn't know it! [Laughs] So I just got lucky, and feel incredibly blessed to be here.
What did you think about your competition?
Sam and--and Hans, they're amazing people, I love them both. Um, I couldn't have asked for better competition. Any--any one of the fifteen of us could've been up here, though, could've been having this trophy. Everyone was amazing. Everyone is so smart. Everyone knows their stuff. It's just a matter of luck and the buzzer.
What was the best part of the experience?
Um, the best part of the whole experience--this sounds corny--but it was definitely meeting everyone. It's really cool to have a friend at so many different colleges all over the place, and I know that if I ever find myself in Tennessee, or if I ever find myself in Connecticut, I'll have friends to stay with, or--and it's just great. Hopefully we'll connect on Facebook and then stay friends forever.
$100,000! How will you spend it?
Um, I'd like to travel. I've never been to Europe. Um, so, I'd like to do that. I'm sure I'll pay off some of my student loans, which is a boring answer. Um, maybe I'll buy myself an aquarium, like I've always wanted, and get myself some tropical fish in my house, which would be really awesome. But, I don't know--it's a lot of money. [Laughs]
Anyone you'd like to thank?
My friends and my family. I couldn't have done it without you. Um, I--I'm so indebted to you. You--my parents raised me right. My friends they keep me c--they keep me sane when I'm trying to go nuts over Jeopardy! And, uh, they understand, so I'm very grateful to them, and, yeah!
2011 Tournament of Champions wildcard semifinalist: $10,000.
2010-B College Championship winner: $100,000 + a trophy + a Nintendo Wii + the Wii Jeopardy! game.
Jeopardy! Message Board user name: Glassysquid
November 19, 2010
Since I got to watch the other two semifinal games, I got to see the tough competition I was up against. Hans and Sam were both formidable players, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. But, I knew that any one of us could win and I’d be happy – both of them are great guys, and they’re both incredibly smart. Playing the two day final was, like the semifinal game, super fun. There were a lot more questions that I didn’t know that round, but even with that, I still enjoyed myself. Watching Hans get into the red was a bit of a reality check – I knew that, given a board with different categories, that could have easily been me. Nevertheless, I couldn’t believe that I was still winning, even going into final – and leading by a lot, to boot! It made the next game a lot less stressful for me, which was nice. I played the game, knowing that it could have been my last time ever, and just tried to play the best game I could.
To my surprise, even though I didn’t know either Final Jeopardy!, I won! I couldn’t believe it – I mean, I didn’t even think I would get called for an audition, let alone called to be on the show, let alone win the whole thing. Alex handed me the trophy and I almost started crying. For once, hard work and luck worked together and brought my greatest dream to reality. I simply could not believe it. Even now, a week after the game, I still can’t even put it into words how amazing the whole experience was. It would have been amazing even if I didn’t win, honestly, because I had so much fun and met 15 of the greatest people on the earth.
As of now, I haven’t really been able to tell anyone, since the shows haven’t aired. My parents and uncle know, since they were in the audience, and they were of course thrilled. Not much in my life will change after this, though – I’m still going to work hard over the summer for some spending money, haha. I’m going to use the money to pay off my current student loans, of course, and I’ll put some of it away for when I go to London my senior year. Amanda (from UVA) and I plan on getting adorable dresses with our money, and I’m also going to buy myself a MacBook with my winnings! Mostly, I can’t wait for the shows to air, so I can tell my friends about the whole experience – it’s really hard to keep a secret from them! And I know that they’ll be thrilled with the outcome; they, more than anyone, know how much the whole thing means to me. I’m extremely grateful and extremely blessed – and I can’t wait to come back for the Tournament of Champions!!
November 15, 2010
After that long first day of taping, we all went back to the hotel on the bus, went out to dinner with our families, and made plans to meet up at the hot tub later that night. A few of us went, which was super fun – we really got to bond with each other, without the stress of being in the studio and the high stakes hanging over our head. Again, it was amazing how much we all had in common – we were all super nerds and we had some great conversations. Shortly after that, I hit the hay, knowing I would have another day of nerves tomorrow.
We again met in the lobby for the bus ride to the studio, which was much more conversational than it had been the previous day. We really got to know each other (over the course of one day!) and were already really close. I was so happy the atmosphere wasn’t cutthroat and competitive – on the contrary, I didn’t even feel like we were contestants against each other! It was so refreshing.
After the bus, we got to the studio, and the nine of us semifinalists went into makeup and played another rehearsal game. We were done doing the silly promos, so the day had a little more of a serious tone – we all knew how high stakes it would be. I mean, one of the nine of us would walk away with a hundred thousand dollars. Crazy!
Maggie announced the first three players, and to my surprise, I was one of them! It was a little nerve wracking going first, but I figured it’d be good to get the stress of the day over quickly. This time around, though, I found the game much more fun! Like I said in my last blog, making it on the show was a dream come true, and since I already won one game, it was pretty much everything I could have hoped for. Since the rest of this was just gravy, I decided to have some fun with it, and I found I was much less nervous for the second game. That being said, once final was read, I was quite relieved that I was leading going into it. I know nothing about sports! Thankfully, it was something about sports that I knew, seeing as two of my best friends played field hockey in high school. I couldn’t even believe that I had won a second game! It sank in shortly after that, oh my god, I was going to go to the final round. It set in that I could win, which was a possibility I hadn’t even dared to think of.
(Erin’s going to the Finals! Check back to read her next blog!)
November 9, 2010
All of the college contestants met in the lobby promptly at 7:30 AM on Monday. It was easy to spot them – 15 kids in college gear stand out in a plush hotel lobby! We got to meet each other for the first time and got on the bus, both excited and nervous. It was so cool, though; even though we had all just met, we talked on the bus as if we were old friends, talking about everything from movies to music to nerdy things like history and science. In between conversations, Maggie briefed us on what would happen that day so we’d be a little prepared. An hour after getting on the bus, we were at the Sony lot, getting off the bus and into the studio.
Seeing the studio was so overwhelming. I know that I, as well as the other contestants (who I now thought of as my friends) had our jaws wide open as we stepped on the set for the first time. It looks just like it does on TV, but it was amazing seeing it in real life! For the first part of the day, we taped a lot of the promos that’ll air on TV. They had us say silly things ("Watch me score tonight on your ABC Action News Station!” "Ka- CHING!” "Details, now.”) but we had a lot of fun feeling stupid and just generally being goofy. After all the promo stuff was done, we started playing a rehearsal game. We got to stand behind the official podiums, write our names on them, and use the buzzers! It was a little intimidating at first because it seemed that everyone else was getting the hang of it quicker than me, but by the end of the game (which was super easy – most of the questions were from kids or teen Jeopardy!) we all got in some quality time with the buzzer. After the rehearsal game, we went back to the green room to wait, indefinitely, until it was our turn to play our game. Talk about nerve-wracking!
Waiting in the green room was pretty stressful. We went through the selection of movies, picked Monty Python, and started watching it after the first three contestants went through make up and went out onto the stage. Even though I love Monty Python, it was tough to concentrate on the movie – I was too busy thinking about how nervous I was! I desperately hoped that I wouldn’t be in the last game; I don’t know if I could have handled the wait in the green room all day. Luckily for me, after the first game, my name was the first called! Hans, Lea, and I looked at each other, hugged, and then went to get our make up done and our mikes on. From there, we left the green room to applause and hugs and "good lucks!” from everyone else, and we walked on to the set. My heart started pounding the instant we walked on and didn’t stop till I walked off! I wrote my name on the podium, picked up my signaling device, and tried to calm myself down before they started rolling. Once the cameras started taping, everything moved really fast. All of us were quick on the buzzer, so it was anyone’s game for a little while, but honestly, the whole thing went by in a blur. I didn’t even know if I was in the lead or in the red until there was a break in game play for a daily double or at the commercial breaks. When I saw I was in the red, I freaked out, and resolved to fix it. No way was I going to go home having been in the red! I pulled myself up, got my wits about me, and went on to finish the game – in the lead. Thankfully, final was something that I felt confident in, so I wagered to win. Even though I knew I had the right answer, I was still floored when I won. It was an amazing feeling to have a secure spot in the second round – I had to watch my friends stress over their final totals and whether or not it would grab them a wild card spot. I never thought I would advance – making it on at all was a dream come true, and I knew that everything else that happened after that would just be gravy. We got to watch the rest of the games from the audience, which was nervewracking in a totally different way; I was rooting for everyone to do well, so watching someone blow a daily double or get themselves into the red was stressful! Watching the games, I knew that I had some hardcore competition for the next round. Everyone was amazing, of course, or they wouldn’t be there.
November 5, 2010
Hi, my name’s Erin McLean, and I’m a sophomore at Boston University. I’m majoring in Marine Science and English (I know, I know, it’s a strange combination) and eventually, I want to study deep sea fish and write articles about them. I’m pretty involved – I play tuba in BU’s marching and pep bands, I’m a member of Tau Beta Sigma sorority, and I’m also a card-carrying fish nerd in the Marine Science Association.
I’ve wanted to be on Jeopardy! ever since I was a little kid. My mom used to drop me off down the street with my twin best friends when she went to do errands, and their mother was a religious Jeopardy! viewer. Like clockwork, at 7:30, the TV was tuned directly to Jeopardy! In the years that followed, I started watching Jeopardy! on my own. My friend and I used to play over the phone with each other. My mom always turned it on during dinner. Then high school hit, and I heard about this club called college bowl. The advisor was my favorite teacher at the time, and he encouraged me to come to one of their meets and see how things went. I fell in love with real-stakes trivia (and the buzzer!) and from then on, I couldn’t get enough. That year, I tried out for Teen Jeopardy! at the suggestion of some of my friends, but it never went anywhere – no audition, no call, no nothing. I’m not one to give up that easily, though, so when the college test rolled around the next year, I decided to take it. I studied feverishly from January to February, writing down anything I thought I’d have to know in my bright orange Jeopardy! notebook. My roommates thought I was absolutely nuts, but were extremely supportive – the night of the test, they brought me an energy drink and my favorite candy to keep my spirits up.
The test went by in a blur. I went on autopilot, trusting the knowledge I had would pull me through. And, I guess it did, because a few months later, I got an email from Jeopardy! inviting me to Philadelphia for an in-person audition. Everyone I told was so excited for me, and I embarked on another feverish journey of preparing. This time, I knew the stakes were much higher.
When June rolled around, I felt pretty prepared. I knew a lot, and I knew that I’d be able to recall it in a pinch. I had never been to Philadelphia before, and the first thing I did when I got there was run the Rocky steps. I had just seen the movie right before I left, and there was such a charge as I ran up those steps, holding my practice buzzer in hand, listening to the Rocky theme song. I knew I’d be on the younger side of the hopefuls, so I had a bit more to prove. But, even with that, I was looking forward every part of the process.
On the day of the audition, I got to the hotel super early because I was so excited. I hung out by the audition room, and one by one, other college kids trickled in to wait with me. It was so fun talking to them – a whole roomful of other Jeopardy! nerds! – and we got along great, talking about college and trivia and all sorts of other things. Once the door opened, we were greeted by the casting coordinators. They helped to put everyone at ease as we settled into the audition with a bunch of practice questions. Of course, they wanted us to answer those (in a form of a question!) so I raised my hand a few times and answered, getting them all wrong! Fortunately, I was able to laugh it off with everyone, and once we got down to taking the next test, I felt like I was on my game. After the test, we all took turns playing a practice game, which was so much fun. We got to use buzzers and everything! I was in the first group, which made me a little nervous, but it turned out to be so much fun to be up there, answering with a buzzer. Our group of three did really well on the game, and then Glenn asked us about ourselves – major, hometown, what we like to do in our spare time, etc. And just like that, it was all over! Once the audition had finished, I went downstairs to wait for my mom. I thought I had done pretty well, but I was sure the other kids there were smarter than me, so I told myself that no matter what, I would just keep trying, even if this wasn’t going to be my year.
From there, Jeopardy! kind of faded out of my life. I still watched, of course, and every so often friends would ask me how the audition went, but I didn’t keep studying or anything like that. I was fairly sure I wasn’t going to be called, so (in true college fashion) I put studying on the back burner to have fun and work during the summer.
Imagine my surprise when, a month ago, I actually got The Call! It was raining, and I was in the sub shop around the corner from my room, just waiting for my dinner, when I heard my cell phone ring. I was on my way to band rehearsal, so I just assumed that the unknown number was from a freshman, asking what we needed that night. I answered, only to hear, "Hi, Erin? This is Maggie from Jeopardy!—" I didn’t even let her finish – I ran right out of the sub shop to jump up and down on the sidewalk. She told me all the details as I walked from my room to the band room, and one of my sorority sisters fell into line with me while I was on the phone. When I hung up, she asked me "Who was that?” And in response, I gave her a huge hug, told her the news, and we both screamed in excitement. It didn’t seem real then; I still can hardly believe it now!
I wasn’t able to prepare that much in the month I had between getting the call and leaving for LA. School kind of took over – I had papers on top of reading on top of lab reports on top of exams, and all of those kept me from studying for Jeopardy! I grabbed a few moments here and there, when I would make lists of important information (like the presidents, state nicknames, what have you) and played along with the TV every time I could. I tried to focus most of my attention on the things I really didn’t know, like sports, art history, and politics. I still had my notebook that I used for the audition prep, so I read through that as much as I could. I even slept with that under my pillow – I have it on good authority that if you sleep with a book under your pillow, all of the knowledge contained therein rises up by diffusion into your brain. Here’s hoping that works!