Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I probably see myself, um, either as a postdoc or maybe working as a professor at some college somewhere--I'm planning on going to grad school.
Does your major give you an advantage on Jeopardy!?
Oh, I think it did, 'cause, um, I actually talked with, um, the previous champion to come out--to come from, uh, Harvey Mudd College, uh, Andrew Hutchings, and he said that being like in a math, science, or engineering major does kinda tend to give you an edge.
What are you most excited about today?
I'm most excited about just, y'know, being on TV, basically. Y'know, filming the promos, and also meeting Alex Trebek. That was--that was great.
How did you react when you were selected as a contestant?
I didn't tell anyone for a week. 'Cause, I was--it, it seemed really surreal. Like, I wasn't sure if it was actually happening or if I [was] just losing it or something, but then, once, um, like, confirmation from other places like, say, my school's PR department, or on the Jeopardy! web site--when that started happening, then I felt comfortable enough to, like, start telling people that I was on. And it felt a lot more real once I had some more evidence about it.
[After winning semifinal game]
What did you think of your competition?
I was hopeful, but, y'know, both James and Danny, they were both really smart, so I was a little unnerved, really. I was nervous. I--I wasn't sure if I was going to come out or not. I was--I was the winner, but I did, so I'm really happy about it, though.
What was the turning point during your game?
I'd have to say the entirety of Double Jeopardy!, actually. Maybe the Dr. Drew category. I felt like I did well on that one. And, actually, I was freakin' out on that very last clue. I was just hoping that, um, that, uh, Danny wouldn't get it, just so I could, y'know, have the runaway game. And it feels really awesome to have actually had one of those.
Were any of the categories particularly challenging for you?
Um, the fashion category, the movies, um... Yeah, I--those were definitely the two that stuck most. That was like the ones where I just had absolutely no clue on.
Do you feel any added pressure because a former College Champ went to your school?
It's been giving me a little pressure, I have to give you that much. Um, and, hopefully, y'know, hopefully his precedent I'll follow in, uh, but we'll have to see how I do on finals.
How will you celebrate if you win it all?
I'm gonna go back home, just throw a big party for everyone, um, of course, after it airs, so I--not to spoil the secret or anything. But, yeah, after it airs, I'll just go out and--go out and celebrate. 'Cause, y'know, that's... this once in a lifetime, and to get this far, it's great.
Have you perfected your buzzer technique?
I've been working on it, but there are still a couple of times where I buzzed in a little early or a little late. I need a little bit more practice, but hopefully, I can--I can get this down, and, y'know, just, rock the game.
2008 College Championship 2nd runner-up (semifinalist by wildcard): $25,000.
20 and from Arleta, California at the time of the College Championship.
Jeopardy! Message Board user name: AChung
Andrew's First Blog Entry
Posted May 2, 2008
On a cold November morning at the unholy hour of 6:30 AM, I got up, dressed, and semi-consciously biked down to the Metrolink station. On the way there, I wondered why I was doing this. Sure, the online test a couple of months back in September was just a half-hour, but this interview was going to take my whole Sunday. Sure, I'd brought along my homework due on the next day, but was I really going to have time to do it? Sure, being chosen for the interview was an honor, but once it was over, there was no guarantee anything would come of it. After all, with the thousands of people trying out, it seemed nigh impossible that I'd be one of the 15 chosen.
Swallowing those doubts, I arrived at the Radisson in Culver City. Due to the train schedule, I was there a couple of hours early. That time was very wisely spent lazily lounging on the hotel's couches, abandoning the work I'd brought with me. Eventually, other hopeful contestants started showing up, coming in from all over the West Coast. I was silently thankful that Harvey Mudd was only an hour's train ride from the hotel.
We were called up to the meeting room where the interview would take place. There were a lot of forms to fill out and they took our pictures. My picture looked terrible, but that was bound to happen anyways.
The actual interview was fun. There was a 50 question test to make sure we didn't cheat on the online test (I don't think I did that well on it, honestly), Tony showed us how to properly play Jeopardy!, and Cheryl from the Clue Crew (Seriously, the freakin' Clue Crew! I was pumped) gave a motivational talk on… well, I can't remember. No offense, Cheryl. Then we went up in groups of three, introduced ourselves, and played a quick round of Jeopardy! to gauge our playing skills and personality. I went last with one other competitor, who I pretty much crushed in the Jeopardy! round. I guess that's why they picked me.
Things went just great after the interview. The cab company lost my request for a cab, so I missed the 3:25 train back home. I took the bus back to the train station and waited impatiently for the 5:25. At that point, I would have bet good money that I wouldn't make it on. Good thing I didn't make that bet.
Fast forward to March 17 (the real St. Patrick's Day, as far as I was concerned), the first day of my spring break. I'd managed to get up rather early for some unknown reason, so I was fully awake to receive a phone call from some guy named Robert telling me I was going to be on College Jeopardy!! Whoa.
I kept my cool throughout the entire call, but once I hung up I fell into a state of absolute shock. Part of me didn't quite believe that had just happened, so I didn't tell anyone for a week. Then my school issued a press release about my appearance on Jeopardy! and I finally believed that it was going to happen.
As the news spread, my friends asked the same questions over and over. "When are you going?" "When will it air?" "How did you get on?!" "Can you tell us how you did when you come back?" "Have you studied at all?" After a few days of this, the answers came automatically. "April 9." "May 5." "I took an online test last fall, there was an interview in November, and they told me on St. Patrick's Day." "Probably not…" "No, I haven't had the time." (Argh.) Unsurprisingly enough, the most common suggestion was to pull a Sean Connery impression a la SNL's Celebrity Jeopardy! skits. I'll see how well that goes.
Naturally, there's some pressure to do well, as in any competition. I am representing the school, after all. But here's a fun fact: Back in 1998, there was a student from Harvey Mudd in the College Championship. He won.
… No pressure.
- Come back on May 5 to read Andrew's next entry!
Posted May 5, 2008
We all gathered in the lobby of the Madison Doubletree on Thursday morning. I was the second-to-last contestant to arrive – until I realized that I'd left my phone in my room. As I jogged back from the elevator, I noticed that Danny had arrived in my absence, making me the last one to arrive. Damn.
Although the Kohl Center was all of one block away from the Madison Doubletree, Jeopardy! had arranged a shuttle to give us a ride over. Given the heavy rain and wind, it wasn't such a bad idea. The shuttle even dropped us off a couple of feet from the doors, exposing us to the elements for all of a couple of seconds as we dashed inside.
We were taken to the green room for the first time. We'd get to know this room very well over the next few days, sitting here for hours on end while waiting to get called up to the stage. But this early on it was still a novel experience, as was having someone plaster makeup on my face (well, at least for me). Looking quite pretty, we all walked over to the stage to shoot promos and interviews. You know those lame commercials where they have every contestant telling you to sign up for the online contestant test? Yeah, we did those. They were simultaneously one of the most fun and the most embarrassing things I've ever done.
The Jeopardy! staffers let us free eventually, but the shuttle hadn't arrived yet. A few of us decided we'd brave the rainy weather and walk back instead. Armed with our free Doubletree umbrellas, we charged on forth and immediately regretted our decision as the wind buffeted our umbrellas and sprayed rain everywhere. For college students appearing on a quiz show, it wasn't our most stellar moment.
Suchita, the hometown girl, took us to a Himalayan restaurant on State Street. As we sat and chatted about our lives outside of Jeopardy!, I became very thankful for Jeopardy!'s rigorous contestant selection process, as they'd managed to find college students who were both ridiculously intelligent and outgoing. In fact, we were chatting like old friends as soon as we'd met. It'd make parting a couple of days later that much harder.
- Andrew's next blog will be posted on 05/08/08
Posted May 8, 2008
The day had finally arrived – we were going to play Jeopardy! This was the day when we got to know the green room very, very well. After getting all pretty, we went to the stage and had our rehearsal games, practicing our playing skills onstage, with Jimmy from the Clue Crew taking the Trebek role. Afterwards, we went back to the green room for a fairly late lunch. After we ate, the contestant staff announced that they'd take us away in threes to play the game for real.
The rest of us were sequestered in the green room until it was our turn to play. We all tried to lose ourselves in Talladega Nights, but whenever someone entered the green room, our eyes immediately shot over to the door, wondering if it was Tony announcing the next three victi- er, contestants. Every now and then, my mind would drift away from the movie-induced stupor and realize that I was going to be on Jeopardy! soon, inducing a momentary panic. As Ricky Bobby's story finished and we started watching About A Boy, I was called up with the third group. Silently thankful for not having to spend any more time in the green room, I felt pity for those who
I actually don't remember that much about my first game – it turns out that many of the other contestants didn't remember their games either. I just remember taking excessively long with my wager – first, I agonized over how much to bet, then I simply forgot to write my wager down. Oops.
Anyways, I didn't win that first game – that honor went to Joey. However, I managed to score $19002. As I sat down in the contestant section of the audience, the other guys told me I was probably continuing as a semifinalist, as I had the highest nonwinning score so far. Comforted by that fact, I kicked back and relaxed as I watched the final two groups compete for spots in the semifinals, confident that I would still be around to play tomorrow. I was excited, but not so much about the extra cash I'd get for continuing on in the tournament. I just wanted to play more, because actually being on stage and answering questions was one of the biggest rushes I've ever had.
- Be sure to come back on May 9 to see if Andrew makes it to the Semi Finals!
Posted May 16, 2008
I sat backstage, trying to shake off the hit to my confidence. I had botched the Final Jeopardy! question pretty hardcore in the first game of the finals (crossing out the correct answer of Robert Scott and entering Robert Peary instead), leaving me in third entering the second game.
As we headed back onstage, I took a deep breath, determined to approach the game as if nothing had happened. Trying to bolster my confidence with humor, I struck a stereotypical Asian tourist pose during the introductory shot, which the stage manager was apparently unhappy with – I had to redo the shot during the commercial break. The game didn't go all that well for me, despite a gutsy Daily Double bet in Double Jeopardy!. At one point, I even managed to drop my buzzer. Figuring that there would be no subtle way to retrieve it, I crouched down, grabbed the buzzer, bounced back up, and whistled nonchalantly. Of course, everyone noticed and had a good chuckle – just the reaction I was going for.
The Final Jeopardy! question was on the country that joined the Quadruple Alliance to form the Quintuple Alliance. Having completely blanked on the answer, I decided to make peace with the fact that I was going out in third place and tried to go out in style with "Congrats to the winner, West is Best." For all of you who were confused by "West is best," let me explain – by West, I don't mean the West Coast (although the West Coast is pretty much awesome), but rather the dorm I live in – West Dorm, which ascribes to the slogan "West is best, screw the rest."
Now all that was left was to find out who was first and who was second. Once Danielle and Joey's correct responses of "France" were shown, I made what can best be described as the biggest mistake ever. Had I waited a few seconds for the Jeopardy! staff to add the numbers together and for Alex to formally announce that Joey had won, I probably wouldn't have jumped to a fairly wrong conclusion and congratulated Danielle. But I did, dropping the f-word in the process. Oops. They had to re-tape the ending, and I did much better the second time around.
After the taping ended, I noticed that a couple of people were holding signs for me. Since my family didn't make it to the tapings in Wisconsin, some of the eliminated contestants and their families had adopted me, cheering me on. Combined with the realization that the tournament was over and we'd be leaving soon, that was a definite cue for the waterworks. I was crying on-and-off during the post-taping picture-taking frenzy, leading to some rather stellar pictures of a bleary-eyed Andrew doing his best to smile big.
Later that night, we signed each other's Jeopardy! t-shirts and headed off to a couple of parties. We went first to a party thrown by some of Suchita's friends. Then, as we headed back to our rooms, we noticed the Jeopardy! staff hanging out in the hotel's bar. Since the tapings were over, the staff was finally allowed to talk to us. We spent a couple of hours mingling with the Clue Crew (they were awesome, by the way) and called it a night. The next morning we packed our bags, said our goodbyes, and headed back to our respective homes.
Quite honestly, the Jeopardy! College Tournament was the one of the best things I've ever done. I got to play on my favorite game show, meet a bunch of awesome people, represent my school, and above all, had a lot of fun. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world.
For all of you who are considering trying out for Jeopardy!, especially the College Tournament – do it. Keep an eye out for our lame commercials and don't be afraid to try. Because who knows? Maybe this time next year you'll be the one writing these blog entries when you should be doing homework.