Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten years, I see myself as hopefully having graduated from medical school, but as far as what I'll be doing, what sort of specialty I'll be in, and where I'll be, uh, practicing medicine, I have absolutely no idea. [Laughs]
Do you think your major will give you an advantage in the College Championship?
My major is biology, so I'll probably have an advantage on some of the science questions, but that's probably about it. They--all my other competitors are probably just as good as I am vis-a-vis biology. [Chuckles]
How did you react when you were selected to be on the Jeopardy! College Championship?
Oh! Just, utter shock and surprise. I really was not expecting this at all, and I was just shaking when I received the phone call. [Chuckles]
What do you hope to take from this experience, other than money?
Other than money, it's just the experience of being on Jeopardy! Being able to fly out to Los Angeles, meet all these other really smart kids from across the country. It'll always make a--for a good story, really, for the rest of my life.
Show your school spirit and tune in!
How does it feel to win $100,000?
Ah, it feels wonderful to have won $100,000. I can't even imagine that much money. [Laughs] We'll have to open up a couple of bank accounts because I don't think the FDIC insures for over $100,000!
Are you going to do anything fun with your winnings?
Perhaps. I don't know. Uh, maybe to fund a trip of some sort? I'm actually going to Nice this summer, uh, as part of a school program. Uh, so, I'm sure my parents will appreciate it if I pay for that trip as opposed to them. So, that might be something fun that I put it towards. [Laughs]
What was the best part of your experience?
The best part was just playing the game of Jeopardy! I've loved playing the game. I've had, y'know, computer versions and that sort of thing. But it's just so cool to buzz in and, y'know, answer these questions. It's great. Or actually, question these answers. It's great. [Laughs]
Alex poked fun at you for being uncertain about one of your responses, didn't he?
Yes. Yes. And that one, it was like 2 "D"s & A "P" or something like that--I don't know, my brain wasn't functioning, so I wasn't sure if "dependable" actually fit the requirements of the category, so I was preparing myself for an "Oh, sorry" from Alex, but it--it works, fortunately. [Laughs]
What did you think of the categories?
Well, I know I saw, y'know, MYTHOLOGY as categories, and, like, LITERATURE, and these are not necessarily my fortes. Um, but I think the buzzer was--was my friend, uh, for most of the show, and that was really--that was really key, was getting in, because we basically know most of the clues that were presented, and just getting in quickly was really the key.
Was there a point that you knew you had the game "in the bag"?
Definitely not. Again, it was just at the very end, uh, when Ryan's wager, uh, was revealed. I actually thought he would go for it all, and actually made my wager based on that, uh, supposition, but he was very conservative in his wager, which I don't blame him for getting, y'know--he had to tackle second and third place and that sort of thing. But, it was at that moment when I realized, and not a moment sooner.
What will your Facebook status say after the final show airs?
Ha ha! I actually refuse to do those Facebook status updates. Yes, I--I haven't done one. And, uh, well--I might make an exception, I guess, for when the championship game airs. But we'll see.
Congratulations to Nick & all the College Championship contestants!
2010 Tournament of Champions wildcard semifinalist: $10,000.
2010-A College Championship winner: $100,000 + a trophy.
Hometown: St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Jeopardy Message Board user name: nsyozamp
Nick Yozamp Blog Entry 3
February 9, 2010
My quarter final, post-game thoughts were that everyone had played an exceptional game. Alex had informed Surya that her score made her a shoo-in for the semifinals. He was less sure about Dan’s borderline score, but as it turned out, he too advanced to the next round. I was tremendously happy for all of us; it’s a rarity in Jeopardy! for all three players from a particular quarterfinal match to advance to the semifinals. It meant that we were all strong players and worthy of winning the championship.
After all of the quarterfinal games were completed, all of the players filmed promotions for the Jeopardy! college online test. We then returned to the hotel whereupon I’m sure we all got a very good night’s sleep after the nearly 12 hour day at the Jeopardy! studios. The nine semifinalists and Rebecca, the alternate to the semifinals, boarded the bus the next day at 8:00 a.m., hopeful to play a maximum of three games that day. As usual, before any of the games were played, each of us partook in a rehearsal match. I remember a particularly funny moment in the rehearsal game: I was playing in the first position and selected the category “Not a verb.” The point of the category was to select the one word out of a group of three which was not the verb – easy enough, right? Well, I didn’t quite understand the gist of the category, so after having allowed nearly all of my time to expire and having writhed behind my podium out of embarrassment, I responded incorrectly “What is wiggle?” to raucous laughter from the other contestants.
Since there were no wildcard spots available, all of the contestants were able to watch each of the semifinal games from the audience. The first semifinal game was announced as including myself, James from Santa Clara University, and Sarima from the University of Minnesota. Sarima and I made a pact to represent Minnesota well, and we three went onstage for the second time. The categories in the first round seemed to be right up my alley – Canadian geography and baseball hall of fame plaques among others. By the first commercial break, James and I had comparable scores whereas Sarima was in third place. My topic for the interview segment was how I forgot my lines in a high school production of “Witness for the Prosecution”, which was met with a healthy dose of laughter from the audience for some reason.
By the end of the Jeopardy! round, I was in second place with a respectable score but I was having a difficult time getting in on the buzzer thanks to James’ supreme buzzer skills. The Double Jeopardy! round was not my best – at one point late in the round, I had less than half of James’ total which meant a run-away game. Luckily, I did well in an instrument etymology category and used James’ incorrect response of Dante’s Inferno to come up with the correct response of Milton’s Paradise Lost; my score going into final Jeopardy! was a healthy $10,600 compared to James’ impressive $16,000 and Sarima’s $5,000. The category for Final Jeopardy! was “Ranks and Titles” and I decided to wager $5,401 to beat James’ current score by $1; but all he had to do was respond correctly and wager more than a buck to defeat me. The Final Jeopardy! clue gave a name of a 14th century person with some notable “y’s” and “w’s” in it and stated that he was the last person from his country to hold this title. The name sounded distinctly Welsh to me, so I wrote down “What is the Prince of Wales?” To my honest surprise, I got the question correct and neither of my opponents responded correctly; I had won and was to appear in the two final matches for $100,000. Once again, I had gone into Final Jeopardy! in second place, and had won thanks to a correct Final Jeopardy! response.
Nick Yozamp Blog Entry 2
February 5, 2010
In California/First Impressions:
My parents accompanied me on my trip to tape the Jeopardy! College Championship and they were most pleased to leave the -22 degree weather in MN (seriously, that was the temperature when we left on Sunday, January 3) for the 73 degree warmth of Los Angeles. The kind folks at Jeopardy! lodged us in the gorgeous Hilton in Universal City. We were all quite jet-lagged after the flight, so we did very little on Sunday save for a trip to the nearby Citywalk in Universal City where we grabbed a bite to eat and engaged in the all-American pastime of people-watching.
Monday was a free day; thus, my family and I did the typical tourist thing. We ventured to Venice Beach, drove through Beverly Hills, promenaded down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and took a nice drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. Even if I didn’t do so well on Jeopardy!, at least I had the chance to take in the sights of beautiful Southern California.
But alas, I wasn’t there to sight-see; no, I was there to play Jeopardy! My fellow tournament competitors and I met in the lobby at 7:30 a.m. and boarded a bus to the Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. Upon arrival at the studios, we filled out a few more forms, went over our interview material, and had makeup put on. Afterwards, we finally got to go out on stage. Seeing the Jeopardy! set for the first time in person is permanently etched in my mind – it has a certain aura about it (probably from those bright lights). Each of us filmed both an interview segment and a few video clips. Subsequently, we were each invited behind the podiums in groups of three to play a mock version of Jeopardy! as a rehearsal. The questions were significantly easier than the questions during the actual games, but the point of the rehearsal was to give us familiarity with the signaling device. I got in first on a number of clues during my rehearsal game, so I felt pretty confident vis-à-vis my buzzer prowess.
After the rehearsal game, we were ushered back into the green room. Little did I know, I would spend the better portion of the day in this window-less holding cell, anxiously anticipating my quarterfinal game. On the bright side, I did see “500 Days of Summer” for the first time, which was a fantastic movie. We also viewed “Tropic Thunder” – one of my favorites. Lunch was served after the first three quarterfinal games were played; after we ate, the six remaining contestants had another rehearsal game. Shortly thereafter, I was informed that I would take part in the fourth quarterfinal match which was to air Thursday, February 4th. My competitors were Dan from Columbia University and Surya from the University of Michigan. We went into the makeup room for a final touch-up and were subsequently whisked to the stage.
What I remember most distinctly about my quarterfinal game was catching a peek of Alex Trebek as he was waiting to be called onstage. None of the contestants see Alex before the game, so the first time that any of us see him is when he is introduced by Johnny Gilbert. Speaking of introductions, Johnny incorrectly called my school Washington University, St. Louis (that preposition “in” is so crucial) and mispronounced my name, so I had to be reintroduced during the first commercial break. Anyway, when Alex Trebek came onstage, he mentioned that a freshman, a sophomore, and a senior had already advanced to the semifinals. He wondered aloud whether myself, a junior, would advance to the semifinals and complete the representation of all the grade levels. I felt honored to be mentioned by Alex during the introduction.
Then, the game started. Dan got off to an exceptionally good start thanks to his speed on the buzzer and his knowledge of the categories. I was able to find the Daily Double quite early in the round in the category “Military Matters.” I wagered the maximum value of a clue on the board ($1000) and after having nearly panicked because I didn’t immediately know the correct response, I questioned “What is NATO?” for a quick thousand bucks.
Dan continued his dominance until the end of the first round. Going into Double Jeopardy!, Dan had about $9000, I had $6000, and Surya was around the $0 mark. The Double Jeopardy! round had more favorable categories for me, but all of us did extremely well. I found one Daily Double to which I responded correctly, “What is a polyhedron?” Surya had the most fantastic round of all – going into final Jeopardy! she had accrued over $12,000 to my $16,000 or so and Dan’s $18,000 or so. The category for Final Jeopardy! was something like “20th Century People” about which I felt fairly confident. I probably could have gotten away with wagering nothing and going to the semifinals as a wildcard, but since I had no idea how the other players had done up to this point, I decided to wager a few thousand dollars to ensure a trip to the semifinals if I responded correctly. So, I wagered enough to reach $20,000 if correct and hoped for a favorable clue. The clue was revealed and nothing struck me right away as the correct response. It was about a Time article published in 1946 and a quotation about something physics-related. My first thought was that the person featured in the article was Chuck Yeager – the man who had broken the sound barrier. I then remembered that he had accomplished this feat in 1947; as a result, I decided at the last moment to write down Einstein because you seriously can’t go wrong with Einstein. The correct question was indeed Einstein; Surya responded correctly and moved up to $17,000; Dan was incorrect and fell to a respectable $13,000 or so; I was right and won the game with $20,000.
Nick Yozamp Blog Entry 1
February 2, 2010
Hi, my name is Nick Yozamp and I’m a junior at Washington University in St. Louis. I’m majoring in biology and I’m planning to apply to medical schools this summer. I am originally from St. Cloud, Minnesota.
My love for Jeopardy! goes back as far as I can remember. I watched the show with my grandparents every opportunity I could and even requested a Jeopardy! computer game from my parents when I was eight years old. Needless to say, I was barely able to answer the (at that time) $100 clues, but I kept at it and by high school I was responding correctly to a respectable number of clues.
My Jeopardy! obsession really took off in college. I shouldn’t say that I try to plan my class schedule around Jeopardy! (which airs at 3:30 p.m. in St. Louis), but I do. I first took the Jeopardy! online test my freshman year of college. I skipped the test my sophomore year (thanks to an inopportunely-timed biology exam), but I took the online test again this past August. Two of my friends (hi Vanessa and Alyssa!) took the online test as well, and we all felt as though the 50-question free response test was pretty formidable.
Flash forward a few weeks and I am accessing my e-mail account. I was delving a few pages back in my inbox to download a problem set from my biology professor when I came across a previously unread e-mail from Jeopardy! that had been sent a day prior. Wondering why I had never opened the e-mail, I clicked on it and couldn’t believe my eyes! It was a message inviting me to Chicago to take part in a Jeopardy! audition. Boy, was I glad that I had sifted a page or two back in my inbox or I would have missed this entire experience!
The audition was scheduled for Saturday, October 24th in Chicago. My roommate Matthew and my friend Alyssa both live in Chicago, so we, in addition to two of my other friends, decided to make a weekend of my Jeopardy! audition and road trip it. We were all given wonderful accommodations in the Windy City, thanks to the hospitality of Matthew’s mother.
The audition was held at 9:00 a.m. at the Westin hotel, a stone’s throw away from the John Hancock Center. The 9:00 a.m. session was one of three sessions that were held that day in Chicago. There were perhaps 16 other college students auditioning in my session from all around the country’s midsection – schools from Minnesota to Ohio, Illinois to Texas. The first order of business was for us to take a second 50-question test. I remember being very pleased with the amount of material on the exam that I knew; I figured that I had probably scored 43 or 44 out of 50. Our performance on the exam remains a well-guarded secret as does the cut-off for consideration of being on the show.
The second order of business was to play a mock Jeopardy! game – buzzers and all. We were called up in groups of three to face the Jeopardy! board. Everyone was incredibly skilled; there was nary an incorrect response to be heard and the clues were by no means easy. I responded to three clues during the mock game; my fellow two competitors responded to a few more than me. But, I projected an air of confidence with my responses and managed to respond correctly to all three!
After the mock Jeopardy! game, Maggie, one of the contestant coordinators, interviewed each and every one of us à la Alex Trebek on the televised Jeopardy! She asked me about Floyd, an older patron of the grocery store at which I have worked during the summer and on school breaks who gives me general knowledge quizzes every time he comes in and corrects them on his next visit. I think the story really resonated with the contestant coordinators because at the end of the audition, I was given two Jeopardy! waterbottles and two Jeopardy! pens – one of each for me and one of each for Floyd!
I felt as though the audition had gone as well as I could have hoped. Nevertheless, I resigned myself to the possibility that the audition would be the end of the road for me; the odds of being chosen to compete were simply too unfavorable for my practical mind.
You can imagine my supreme surprise and elation when, on December 3, 2009 I checked my phone after my ballroom dance class to discover a voicemail: “Hello, this message is for Nicholas Yozamp. Nicholas, this is Maggie from Jeopardy!” I nearly keeled over right then and there! I returned her telephone call from my car as I was driving home and confirmed all of the salient legal points with her whilst sitting in my car outside my apartment building. At the end of the conversation, I was officially invited to compete on Jeopardy!
Unable to stifle my jubilation, I ran (and I NEVER run) to my apartment, eager to tell someone. Fortunately, I ran into my good friend and Jeopardy! buddy Alyssa and her friend Caitlin as they were leaving for dinner. I told them the exciting news and they were ecstatic! I called my parents shortly thereafter and they were incredibly proud – they knew that I had always wanted to be on Jeopardy! and now it had come to fruition. Yes, December 3rd was a very good day.
But with an invitation to compete on Jeopardy! comes great responsibility – most notably the responsibility to study hard so as not to make a fool of oneself on national television. Oh, not to mention the responsibility of procuring a couple of school sweatshirts (which is a lot more difficult than one would imagine).
Literature, art, and classical music have always been weak points for me so I have resolved to gain some sort of proficiency in these areas. As a result, a Sparknotes book of 150 famous plays and novels has become my Bible as of late. Moreover, I have spent way too much time on Wikipedia and the Jeopardy! archive in an effort to seem as though I know my stuff. And of course, Floyd has been helping me prepare for Jeopardy! with new quizzes every time he comes into the grocery store. But, the most effective and fun way to prepare for Jeopardy! is to watch it every day!