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Jeopardy! winner shares his experiences

 Image courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

For Matthew Church, writing his respirology exam was more nerve wracking than his three appearances on the hit game show Jeopardy!.

Mr. Church, a second year student in the Queen’s School of Medicine, competed three times on Jeopardy!, which was filmed back in October in California. Mr. Church had to keep the outcome of his competition a secret until the episodes aired on December 16th, 17th and 18th.

His first night victory saw Mr. Church so far in the lead that he had $24,000 before the final jeopardy even started. He then proceeded to win the episode with his answer “What is Laos?”

What was the application process like?

“It wasn’t something that I had ever tried before. When I started at Queen’s some of my classmates mentioned that they had taken the online quiz, so in January 2013 I tried it. The quiz was open to everyone in North America and around 250 or 300 thousand people signed up to take it when there was only enough space for 400 contestants. In June I was invited to audition in person on-camera in Toronto. Fairly soon after that I got a call back for another interview and by August I was given one month’s notice to get to Los Angeles for filming.”

How did it feel to get selected?

“Getting selected was the biggest thrill. Appearing on the show was a dream come true as I’ve been watching Jeopardy! since I before I could answer most of the questions. I think that for anyone who enjoys trivia, Jeopardy! is the pinnacle of trivia competitions.”

How did your friends and family react to your wins?

“When I shot the episode back in the beginning of October I knew that it was going to air on December 16th which was the day of my two final exams. The timing couldn’t have been better as that episode was the one where I had my most dominating performance on Jeopardy!. Around fifty of my classmates came out to the Grad Club to watch, and I was able to make it back to Prince George in time to watch the second episode with my family. It wasn’t that difficult to keep it a secret because I knew that it would be more exciting if I didn’t say anything. There was a lot of excitement but nobody seemed very surprised, I had a lot of people say ‘If someone was going to do it then it would be you.’”

How did you prepare for the show?

“I had some of my classmates quiz me on a bunch of things and I made sure I brushed up on topics that I knew I was weak at, like U.S. presidents. You don’t know the categories beforehand, though, so it’s really impossible to be totally prepared.”

Were you nervous? How did you combat those nerves?

“I was extremely nervous. Jeopardy! has their stage crew come by and wipe the sweat off your forehead and I had to wipe the sweat off my thumbs so I could actually click the buzzer. After the first episode I felt that I had accomplished everything I ever dreamed of. On nights two and three I had more trouble with the buzzer, but I’m amazed I looked so confident during two very close games!”

What was the best part of the experience?

“It was great to watch the show with so many classmates and friends. It’s so touching to have people cheering you on and when I got back to Prince George that was just magnified even more, it felt like the whole city was behind me. It felt great to be able to share a really positive and exciting story with so many people.”

In total, Mr. Church won $31,000. He says he will be putting some of it towards his tuition fees, as well as having already made donations to Wikipedia and the Prince George Public Library.

“I’d like to take a trip this summer and give my brain a chance to recharge,” says Mr. Church. “I’m thinking of Laos.”