University of Rochester

A Night of Performances Delights Senior-but No Jeopardy! Win

November 12, 2005

For a student who says he doesn't draw much attention, senior Colin Brown ushered in nearly 100 friends last night for his debut on the Jeopardy! College Championship.

He wore a light gray, hooded University of Rochester sweatshirt and looked utterly cool as he took an early lead in American's top-rated quiz show. The crowd in Lower Strong Auditorium cheered and clapped regularly, and occasionally shouted the answers to statements from famed host Alex Trebek. But Colin's Stanford University challenger Nico jumped ahead with his sports acumen and ultimately won the right to go on to the semi-finals.

"I'm just thankful I got the chance," Colin said after the broadcast. Friends ganged up on him with hugs and then followed him to his next performance of the night: a concert by a cappella group After Hours, just a flight of stairs away.

A loyal fan of the program, Colin saw the promos for the annual Jeopardy! competition at home last summer in Milwaukie, Ore., and succeeded in getting an audition. Friends encouraged him all along and a few of them joined him for a trip to North Carolina State University in Raleigh where the shows were taped. Categories included Web sites, movie songs, countries named after people, girls gone wild, and even one about Raleigh, N.C.

As viewers gathered on River Campus, some friends literally bounced with excitement into lower Strong since only Colin and one friend knew the outcome. Colin thanked people numerous times and kibitzed during commercials with insider information such as how tricky it is to hit the game buzzer just right.

The audience quieted when Colin slipped to second place—he hit $9,000 as a high—and fell behind in the quest to reach the finals and a grand prize of $100,000.

He bet most of his pot of game money on the Final Jeopardy! question about U.S. presidents. Being a political science major, that appeared a good move.

Both he and Nico of Stanford guessed "Who is Nixon?" to the statement: "His mother Louise said, 'I do not want my son to be president. His is a judicial mind and he loves the law.' " The correct response was "Who is William Howard Taft?"

The winning student had more than $14,000 after his wager was subtracted. Colin was down to $2,000 with challenger Anna of the University of Michigan at Dearborn third.

For real money, Colin will get $5,000. He enjoyed every aspect of the experience and has no regrets. A final bonus: He's still talking online with the 14 other competitors.