Because I tended to rock back and forth a bit behind the podium, my friends said I looked like the autistic savant played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie Rain Man. From then on, whenever it would come up or someone would want to see a tape of the show, I'd get called “Rain Man!”
5-time champ--although I had to go through six appearances, since initially I lost my 5th game, but later it was determined I was right on a question where I had been ruled wrong. The show invited me back for one more game, I won that one in a squeaker, and that's how I won my five. My wife likes to say that I was the only five-time champ who had to win six games.
Just about all the other players I met were really nice people, but one woman did try to psych me out in the middle of my winning streak. As we stood in the darkness just before the show starts, she turned to me and said “You don't want to beat me in front of my 8 year old daughter, do you?” I was so stunned I didn't know what to say. I had just gotten married less than a year earlier, so I said: “Well, you don't want to beat me in front of my new wife, do you? Your daughter will always love you, but my wife will leave me.” That ended the conversation.
Affect my life:
Sure, in a kind of humorous way. As a professor, with a lot of academic accomplishments, I've found that nothing trumps being on Jeopardy! as the true mark of being smart among most folks! To this day, no matter what else I've done, people really are floored with meeting a 5-time champion. It's like being a celebrity sometimes. (Once, when I was skiing a year or so after the show, the janitor in the ski lodge, a very old Vermonter, walked over and said quietly: “You that Jeopardy! fella?”)
What did you do with your winnings?
I didn't do anything crazy with the winnings... unless you count the tattoos my wife and I got on the Sunset Strip the night I won...
"A five-time champion in 1994, he used his winnings for a trip to Greece. A professor, originally from Chicopee, Massachusetts..."
2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions Round 1 player: $5,000.
1994 Tournament of Champions quarterfinalist: $1,000.
Season 10/11 5-time champion: $57,950 + Jeopardy! 25th Anniversary computer game or Jeopardy! '92 home game.
Tom won 4 games ($45,690), losing his 5th, in games aired 1994-01-31 to 1994-02-04. 8 months later, he returned to the show on 1994-10-10 (because of a "clue discrepancy") whereupon he won an additional $11,990 to become a 5-time champion, just in time for the 1994 Tournament of Champions, which aired the following month. Another champion would not be invited back to play more regular play games after having lost one until Anthony Trifilio in Season 19.
Not to be confused with Season 14 player Tom Nichols, who appeared in show #3000, aired 1997-09-19.