Date of first appearance:
$55,000 (more or less, before taxes)
5-time champion and one win in the subsequent Tournament of Champions; highest one-day total of $15,000.
After my appearance was broadcast, one of the questions my friends asked me was “Can the contestants hear the music that's played during the thirty seconds they have to write their answers to the Final Jeopardy! question?” Since I had played five games, and viewed four more from the audience, it was surely a perfectly reasonable question. But after considerable reflection, I discovered that the only answer I could give was “I haven't the vaguest idea.” To this day, I honestly don't know. When I was actually there and playing the game or waiting to play, that was apparently all I was doing. They could have set off explosions in the studio, I think, and I would never have noticed.
Affect on my life:
No really lasting effect, I think, but it did, of course, make me a “nine-day wonder.” For a couple of years, I couldn't walk into a restaurant or through an airport without being asked about Jeopardy!, mostly “What's Alex Trebek really like?” My usual answer was: “Just the way he seems to be on TV. What you see is what you get.” But I always took the opportunity to add that Alex also studied philosophy in college, just like me, although he prudently didn't make an academic career out of it.
What I did with my winnings:
Nothing crazy, I'm afraid. I'm a fiscally conservative sort of guy, and just invested what was left after taxes. The money is still there, waiting to help enhance my post-retirement years.
Other information about me:
Thanks to my lovely German wife, Regina, I have become thoroughly bicontinental. We spend a lot of time in Bielefeld, her hometown, and, since it's easier to travel in Europe when you start there, I've done a lot of it. The territories that opened up after the fall of the Berlin wall are especially interesting.
Our international folkdance group in Chapel Hill, which I mentioned during my first appearance, still exists, and I still participate in it, although at rather more geriatric levels. I now just sit out the fast-paced, more athletic dances, but, since everyone else has aged right along with me, we also play fewer of them.