UConn student appears on ‘Jeopardy!’

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A University of Connecticut physiology and neurobiology graduate student, Shanu George, took home $2,000 after he appeared on “Jeopardy!” on Jan. 16.  

“I’ve always been good at retaining stupid little facts, so I figured it’d be a good use of my talents,” George said as to why he went on the show. “If I see an interesting fact, I toss back into somewhere in my brain.” 

The process for getting onto the show turned out to be a little more complicated. To appear on “Jeopardy!”, George had to first pass an online test and then an in-person audition.  


Shanu George pictured with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.  Photo courtesy of Shanu Goerge

Shanu George pictured with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek. Photo courtesy of Shanu Goerge

“First you take an online quiz that’s usually offered like every year. It’s fifty questions, it’s timed, it’s online. If you pass that, then they invite you to an in-person audition,” George said. “There, you take more written tests. They also do a little mock game for you where they invite three people up at a time just to play with the buzzers. Then they ask you a couple questions just to see how you perform.” 

From there, a candidate for the show gets put into a pool of other possible contestants who could be called to be on the show at any point. George was only notified that he was going to be on the show a month before the date his show was supposed to be taped. Then, he flew out to LA to compete.  

“They tape five episodes in one day, so you meet a bunch of the people who you’re going to be competing with or who might be competing in the other episodes,” George said. “You do some briefings where they tell you the rules and like what not to do and some tips for making yourself look good. Right around 11 o’clock or so, they start taping the first episode, and then they go one after the other.” 

George explained that it wasn’t his first time trying to get onto the show.  

“I’ve been trying to get on for the past seven, eight years,” George said. “The first time I ever took the online quiz…I passed it that time, and I got invited to the in-person thing. Obviously I didn’t do well enough or whatnot. This was the second time I got to that stage.” 

To study, George said that he mostly just memorized basic information that seemed to pop up on the show a lot.    

“It’s always useful to know state capitals, world capitals, presidents,” George said. He explained that knowing such information could help because though it may not be the answer, it could be related to the clue. 


Shanu George  courtesy of Shanu George

Shanu George courtesy of Shanu George

“For example, one of the questions during my episode was showing a picture of waterfall in North Dakota,” George said. “It’s useful in that respect just to know certain things just because they might ask something tangentially related to it.” 

As for other strategies, George said that he really didn’t have any.  

“The people who are big winners on the show, like Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer, they have a track history of doing quiz bowls and trivia contests,” George said. “I’m not really that hardcore.” 

George ended the show with $300 after losing $2,000 in Double Jeopardy. His advice was to just try the online test, even if it seems daunting.  

“It’s a fun thing to do,” George said. “Even if you don’t think you could win, just test yourself.”  

The next online tests are being offered on Jan. 28, 29 and 30, 2020. Information about registering can be found at Jeopardy.com


Grace McFadden is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at grace.mcfadden@uconn.edu.  

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