For trivia fans on college campuses around the country, the real Winter Olympics is taking place at 8 p.m. every weeknight on ABC. From Feb. 8 – 22, undergraduates students from 36 universities will compete head-to-head in the “Jeopardy! National College Championship,” a new version of the annual two-week tournament.
Mayim Bialik (“Call Me Kat,” “The Big Bang Theory”) is the host for this year’s college tournament, which usually runs as “Jeopardy! College Championship” during the game show’s regular air time. But the “Jeopardy! National College Championship” is a new tournament that will air as a spin-off of the classic trivia show in ABC’s primetime slot. This means fans will be treated to a double dose of “Jeopardy!” — one 7 p.m., syndicated episode and one primetime episode for the duration of February.
Stanford University junior Isaac Applebaum clinched the win in the first round of the first quarterfinals, which aired on Tuesday. No doubt in part to his computational biology major, he dominated the Bio 101 and Bio 201 categories. It wasn’t an easy win for Applebaum, however. Dartmouth College senior Gus Guszkowski was especially speedy on the buzzer and led the players going into Final Jeopardy with $16,800. But even with a modest wager of $2,601, Applebaum was the only player to answer the Final Jeopardy question correctly, ending the game with $16,401.
Round two of the first quarterfinals was another close call that ultimately ended in a win for Louisiana State University junior Stephan Privat. Privat, who played a slow but consistent game, was stumped by the Final Jeopardy question, which tested the competitors on their knowledge of biological etymology. His wager of $0 saved him from defeat by Rice University junior Jasmine Manansala, whose correct answer and finishing score of $12,399 still wasn’t enough to beat out Privat’s $14,300.
Applebaum and Privat are the first of 12 undergraduates who will advance to the semifinals, the chance of winning $250,000 and the title of “Jeopardy!” National College Champion. The second-place finalist will receive $100,000, while third place receives $50,000. But the quarterfinalists not advancing don’t need to be too disappointed: they all go home with a $10,000 participation prize.
While there are no Huskies competing this year, there are a few contestants who hail from Connecticut that you may want to root for. Gus Guszkowski, who was unfortunately knocked out in the quarterfinals, is from Pomfret Center, Connecticut. Representing Brandeis University, West Hartford native Joey Kornman advanced to the semifinals with a $17,201 win in game four of the quarterfinals.
Those who missed the first three episodes of the “Jeopardy! National College Championship” can catch up on Hulu, but less dedicated viewers can join the fun and test their knowledge every weeknight at 8 p.m. on ABC. The champion will be crowned on Feb. 22, 2022.