I have been watching Jeopardy! for years. I started watching with my mom in the 60s, when it was hosted by the late Art Fleming. In its original incarnation, the highest dollar amount in the first round was $50. Later, when the show was brought back in the 80s, now hosted by Alex Trebek, the question values increased, but the questions themselves remained just as difficult. I used to make sure I got to watch Jeopardy! every evening, but as time moved on and other things in my life took a greater priority, watching Jeopardy! became a "Oh, guess I'll just watch Jeopardy!" thing.
Last week, Jeopardy! featured its annual, two-week, ratings hog Tournament of Champions, during which the regular daily game is interrupted for a "March Madness"-like playoff that pits the previous season's top winners against each other for a final competition. The winner receives $250,000 and all the glory that lasts for a day or two. I managed to watch a few episodes of the quarter finals of this year's contest and I even recognized a few of the contestants. The games whittled the participants down to three who would return for a two-day, cumulative scoring round at the end of Week Two. The first was Kerry, a woman I do not remember seeing when she appeared in her regular run of games. Kerry had the nondescript looks of any number of Jeopardy! contestants over the years. She had a quiet demeanor, contrary to most multi-day champions, but she was just as awkward. Then, there was Matt, another awkward, though aggressive, young man who refused to let Alex Trebek finish a sentence before demanding his next question. He also spoke way too loud into the microphone. In the middle position was Alex, an intensely focused fellow, who took this game very, very seriously. He strategically wagered large amounts of his cash and rarely cracked a smile. Often during the games, you could see that Alex was in the zone.
I watched the first evening of the Tournament of Champions finals. During the show, I took to Twitter, as it has become the current, fun way to watch television. It's like watching TV with hundreds (even thousands of your "friends") across the country. Just as the first round began, I tweeted this, in typically smart-ass fashion:
And I continued to watch, as the three contestants mashed their buzzers and rattled off answers to questions that I would not be able to answer with a gun pointed to my head. I consider myself a pretty good student of trivia, but some of these questions were like a graduate school final exam. The "Double Jeopardy!" round was just as difficult and ended with Alex in prime position. He won the game and was poised to take it all on Day Two.
The next morning, I was notified that my snarky little tweet got a few "likes." One of them was from one @whoisalexjacob — Alex himself — the current leader in the Tournament of Champions.
I am always amused when I get a "like" like this. And, obviously, Alex has a sense of humor about the whole experience, so I replied with this, which Alex "liked," as well:
I really was rooting for him. I found Matt's rambunctious nature to be annoying and I thought that Kerry didn't really stand a chance. Unfortunately, I had a haircut appointment that evening and I would be unable to see the final deciding showdown of the Tournament of Champions. When I got home, a quick Google search revealed the outcome of the tournament. As expected, Alex came through victorious, raking in a quarter of a million dollars for his effort. I offered up this tweet to Alex and the whole Jeopardy! watching world:
As he basked in the brief glory his championship has brought him, Alex gave that tweet a "like," too. Maybe he even smiled.