In 1994 I spent a few months in Los Angeles writing a business CD-ROM for (of all people) Mike Milken. Naturally I tried out for Jeopardy! right away. I was a big fan. I'd tried out before in Portland but had never passed the test.
This time I passed and was invited to stay for the personal interviews. A few days later, to my joy, I got a call from contestant coordinator Glenn Kagan, who gave me a taping date in late September.
Jeopardy! tapes five shows a day at Sony Pictures Studios, which is the old MGM lot in Culver City. It was a thrill just to go through the gates and then meet a dozen other excitable contestants in the green room. Stepping onto the set for our practice sessions that morning was a surreal delight. Once the real games started, my name wasn't called until the fourth episode, when I went up against a three-day champ, Russ Woodford. I won the game and then a second game right after. A few weeks later I came back for a second taping session and won two more games before being beaten quite handily.
Four wins was enough to get me invited back to the 1995 Tournament of Champions, which taped almost a year after my first shows. Amazingly, I went on a tear and won the whole tournament and the $100,000 first prize. (There's nothing quite like having Alex Trebek shake your hand and say "Way to go!" after you've just won the Tournament of Champions.) A high point in life.
I also represented the United States at the first-ever Jeopardy! Olympic Tournament in 1996, and was invited back for the Ultimate Tournament of Champions in 2005.
Curious Jeopardy! fans can see all the answers and questions from my games at the excellent J! Archive:
- Season 11 (1994)
- The Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions (1995)
- The Jeopardy! Olympic Tournament (1996)
- Ultimate Tournament of Champions (2005)
People often ask me, "What was the question you answered to win the Tournament of Champions?" Here's the answer.