Can you name the only state admitted to the Union during the 1870s? How about the sport in which Vasily Alexeyev set 80 world records? If you can, or even if you can’t, you might want to show up at Beinecke Plaza Sept. 23 to try out for the JEOPARDY! College Championship, to be held this year for the first time ever on Yale’s campus.
Several hundred students are expected to try out, Yale College Council President Elliott Mogul ’05 said. To narrow down the contestant pool, a preliminary written test will be administered, and based on the results some will advance to a competition in the JEOPARDY! buzzing format. The winner of this contest will represent Yale in the televised championship, which will be filmed at the Lanman Center in Payne Whitney Gymnasium Oct. 3 and 4.
Though many students are excited about the event, the anticipated stiff competition may deter some from participating, Susie Poppick ’07 said.
“It crossed my mind to try out because I’m one of those people who watch JEOPARDY! and yell out the answers,” Poppick said. “But just in the past week I’ve met so many people who probably know more random trivia than me that I think I shouldn’t bother trying out.”
Yalies who are planning to try out can take some advice from former Teen JEOPARDY! contestant Kristina Jones ’05, who placed third in the 1999 finals and won enough money to cover her first year at Yale.
“Practice the buzzer,” Jones said. “If you play video games, you’re ahead of the game. Most of the questions weren’t that hard, so a lot of it was how good you are with the buzzer. You can’t buzz before these lights go on, and if you buzz in early, you’re locked out for 10 seconds or so.”
Entertainment and prizes will also be available on the day of tryouts to lighten the competitive atmosphere, Mogul said.
“On the day of the tryouts even people who don’t get selected to go on will be getting various prizes, probably things like Frisbees and CDs, and maybe some larger things like stereo systems,” Mogul said. “There will also be trivia games, so people who aren’t going to try out can show up too.”
In addition to coming to tryouts, students can get tickets to the filming of the college championship, Mogul said. Tickets can be reserved through an application available from any YCC representative, and the application can be sent to the JEOPARDY! production office for a free ticket. After Sept. 14, the YCC will be distributing the remaining tickets for free on campus, though availability is not guaranteed.
After filming, the shows will be aired from Nov. 10 to 21, and they will appear locally on WTNH, the local ABC affiliate, at 7 p.m. on weeknights, Mogul said.
Each of the 15 televised contestants is guaranteed to win at least $2,500, Mogul said; semifinalists get $5,000; third place wins $10,000; second place is awarded $15,000; and the winner takes home $50,000, a car and a specialized trophy. All costs of the event will be covered by the JEOPARDY! program.
JEOPARDY! publicity managers first contacted the Yale administration about the event, and administrators put the YCC in charge, Mogul said.
“The YCC, of course, was ecstatic,” Mogul said. “I think it’ll be a great way to generate some more Yale spirit. We see [school spirit] at the Yale [sports] games, and this is definitely another outlet for that because we don’t often get to come together as an undergraduate community to cheer someone on. It’s especially great since this is an academic event.”
Representatives for JEOPARDY! could not be reached for comment this week.
In anticipation of the event, JEOPARDY! host Alex Trebek has already filmed a welcome message to Yalies, Mogul said. It will be featured on the Yalestation.org Web site starting next week.