Has anyone recognized you from your previous appearance?
It was very surreal to be recognized on the street, just walking around, even with a disguise of sunglasses. But, yeah. It was un... crazy.
What does playing in the Tournament of Champions mean to you?
It means--it's just another incredible experience. I hope to play my best and have a great time. And, [shrugs] just looking to have some fun. It's always fun to play Jeopardy!
Have you spent any of your previous winnings?
Yes! So, with my winnings, I paid a lot of bills, uh, took a trip to the Caribbean and, uh, New England, and enjoyed myself a little. It was--it was excellent. It was very nice getting that check.
Did you ever expect to break records & make it into the Hall of Fame during your original run?
No, I re--I totally didn't expect that at all. I just wanted to take it one questions at a time, and the fact I just had the game of my life and broke the single-game record just was utterly shocking. I couldn't believe it.
How do you feel about advancing to the next round?
I'm totally excited and amped to go the next round, and I was lucky enough to come away with a win here, and hopefully I can do that on the second round.
Was there a turning point for you?
Um, I think when I got the Daily Double in VIRGINIA WOOLF, and I got that right, I felt like I was probably going to be able to at least get a wildcard, so I'd be safe from there.
Is the level of intensity higher in the Tournament of Champions than during your original run?
Yeah, I would say the play--uh, the intensity. There's--there's a lot of camaraderie, though, in the green room. So we've all--y'know, we're all going through the same experience and we get to know each other, but yeah, when we come out to play, we're playing to win.
What advice do you have for future Tournament of Champions contestants?
If you're fortunate enough to make it to the Tournament of Champions, um... probably study a little bit before you come out here, because you probably know you're going to come back and try to win $250,000, so it's not a bad idea to try to, like, just look at the harder questions, and maybe that can help.
What does it mean to be a finalist in the Tournament of Champions?
Thank you. It's just amazing to be a finalist. Uh, that was the craziest game. I started off slow--well, fast then slow--and then just got lucky getting the two Daily Doubles. I have to play better in the finals, that's for sure.
Are you looking forward to facing Tom in the finals?
Yeah, that's gonna be interesting to go up against Tom. He passed me on the regular season winnings list. I was third for about three months, and then then he, uh, he supplanted me, so now I'm in fourth. So, yeah, it'll be fun to play him.
What has the competition been like so far?
The competition has been very stiff. Uh, everybody's fast on the buzzer. Broad range of knowledge. And, it just--y'know--there's a huge amount of luck and randomness in this game, and I just happened to pull it out. Uh, Joon and Mark are just, y'know, tremendous players, and I did not want to play them in the semifinals, but I had to. [Chuckles]
Were you confident about today's Daily Doubles?
I was confident with art. I knew I could probably do well in that, and I immediately knew it. The philosophy one, I was--wasn't sure if it was "epicurianism" or "hedonism", but I was pretty sure it was "hedonism", and I had to go with that. [Chuckles]
Will you celebrate tonight?
Yes, yes, because I've won at least $50,000, and that, y'know, for, uh, two weeks' worth of shows is not a bad gig.
Any advice for folks taking the online test?
Yeah, I give--everyone should take the online test, even if you think you're not ready, because it's practice, you can always take it in the future. And, um, since the Internet online test, I've taken it three times and auditioned three times, and it took until my third time to get on the show. So, you just have to--if you really want to be on the show, just keep at it, and you can do it.
I just won the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, and I'm stunned. I'm not even sure it's sunk in yet, but it was just an amazing experience.
When you started out on this journey, did you ever think you'd come this far?
Um, I thought about being at the Tournament of Champions. I--y'know--I-I planned to win it. I didn't think I would. I just--y'know--I--just 15 amazing competitors, the 14 other champions, and I just thought my chances were, uh, slim.
How did you feel going into the finals?
I felt good going into the finals, because I--my semifinal game, I was a little out of it during the game, but I felt better going into the first game of the finals. I felt more rested.
Tell us where you're planning to travel with your winnings.
Yes, I'm gonna--I'm--I've said this before, but I--I'll definitely do it. Uh, I would like to go to Easter Island, and see--y'know, just check out that place. Um, it's always fascinated me as a kid. And I'd like to go to Europe, like, such as France, and visit there.
How are you planning to celebrate?
Tonight, I'm gonna have dinner with friends and family that came to watch the tournament, and who knows after that?
Any messages for your fellow Tournament of Champions contestants?
I would--yeah, I would just like to say, uh, to the 14 other champions, um--and--and the alternate--uh, that, yeah, y'know, uh, uh, it's a shared experience, it's such a surreal experience being on television, and it's an amazing experience, and, um, I-I just hope everyone had a good time.
What advice do you have for aspiring contestants?
[Pointing to the $250,000 prize total displayed on his lectern] Take the online test.
Congratulations on winning the 2011 Tournament of Champions!