A shovel bum from Flagstaff, Arizona...

Leszek Pawlowicz

My name is Leszek Pawlowicz. Um, I'm living in Flagstaff, Arizona, where I've been for about, mm, 16, 17 years now.

What was it like when you first went on the show?
Well, it was a long time ago, but it was very, very intimidating. I had no idea how of I was going to do on the show. The--the one thing I was hoping for was that I wouldn't embarrass myself, but I wasn't even sure that that was the case. So, it was--it was a scary moment.

What was the most surprising thing about being on the show?
It's definitely a--a very different experience from what we would get in any other facet of real life, but it was pretty much the way that I thought it was going to be--a bunch of people coming together and, y'know, competing against each other.

What has winning on Jeopardy! made possible for you?
I was a materials scientist working for a semiconductor company, and, um, I wound up being an archaeologist up in Flagstaff, Arizona. And, um, one of the reasons I moved there, or that I was able to move there, was because I won on Jeopardy!, and that gave me the freedom to go off and find a different career from the one that I had when I was first on the show.

Do you have any other memories of being on the show?
I was there, I think, the first--uh, the second week of taping in 1991, where they just switched to a new set. And on traditional buzzers, there's a lock-out, where if you keep on pushing the button over and over again, you lock yourself out, so you have to time yourself exactly to get in at the right moment. And they came up to us and said, "Oh, well our buzzers aren't really working right now, so we want you to just keep on buzzing continuously." And I was like, "Aw, sweet!" [Laughs] Y'know, because I was playing a lot of video games at the time, so I had really good buzzer reflexes. And as soon as I figured out, "Oh, yeah, just--just buzz like crazy," um, I really--y'know, I mean, that's--that was the real key for me winning five games in a row, because it would take, like, one half of a game for the other contestants to realize, "Oh, we should be doing that." And then, I still had the speed, and I also had a fair bit of knowledge, too, to back it up, and so I was usually about to cruise ahead and, um, and--and beat them that way.

They went back to the original system for the Tournament of Champions, where you had to buzz in at the right time, and I did okay on that one, I think, so um... Uh--it--but the buzzer is always the killer, 'cause, you--y'know, you watch the show, and you can see all three of the contestants know most of the answers. And that's true for the regular show, and for the--this Battle of the Decades, where you're bringing back the best--yeah. All of us are going to know most of the answers, so it's going to be a question of who gets the buzzer timing right.

When I saw this episode on TV, it was, "Oh my God, did I really have my tie so badly skewed off to the side?" The only time I wear ties are for weddings and for game shows, and so I don't get a lot of practice on that. In fact, I--I had to go onto YouTube and look up a, uh, video on how to tie a tie, because I'd already forgotten how to do it, because the last time that I was on a--a game sh--uh, wore a tie was for Jeopardy! back in 2005 for the Ultimate Tournament.

The other thing that--that I remember when I was watching the show, um, and was on the show, was I bet enough so that if he had bet everything, and--and he had gotten it right and I had gotten it wrong, we would have tied, and he would have gone on to be a champion. And I was kind of disappointed that he hadn't just gone ahead and bet everything.

What is your reaction to watching yourself win your fifth game?
That was good. It's like, "Yeah, I'm coming back--for the Tournament of Champions. That's pretty awesome."

"He was a material scientist living in Phoenix when he won the Tournament of Champions in 1992. He's now a self-described shovel bum living in Flagstaff in a house he bought with his Jeopardy! winnings. Please welcome..."

"From the 1980s, he says winning on Jeopardy! gave him the freedom to move to a new city and start a new career in archaeology. From Flagstaff, Arizona, here's..."

2014 Battle of the Decades semifinalist: $25,000.
2014 Battle of the Decades semifinalist: $25,000.
2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions Round 1 player: $5,000. Very narrowly defeated by Tad Carithers when Leszek accidentally named The Music Man as the musical featuring the song "Kansas City". (Correct response: Oklahoma!)
1992 Tournament of Champions winner: $100,000.
Season 8 5-time champion: $75,400 + Jeopardy! 25th Anniversary home game or computerized version.

Name pronounced like "LESHZ-ek PAHV-lo-vich."

Featured on ABC's 20/20 story on game show champions, Winter 2001.

Finalist in the History IQ $250,000 Tournament of Champions in 2001.

Won $5,000 on Win Ben Stein's Money.

Appeared on Grand Slam in 2007. Defeated in the quarterfinal round and eliminated from the tournament by Twenty One 6-time champion David Legler, who had previously defeated Jeopardy! champion Frank Spangenberg in the Sweet 16 round.

Leszek won $50,000 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire on 2015-10-23.

Leszek won $10,000 on Master Minds on 2020-06-24.

Jeopardy! Message Board user name: leszekp
Ken Jennings Message Board user name: leszekp

Leszek appeared in the following 3 archived games:
#6837, aired 2014-05-13 Brad Rutter vs. Tom Cubbage vs. Leszek Pawlowicz Battle of the Decades semifinal game 2.
#6831, aired 2014-05-05 Leszek Pawlowicz vs. Robin Carroll vs. Roger Craig Battle of the Decades quarterfinal game 1.
#6767, aired 2014-02-04 Leslie Frates vs. Leszek Pawlowicz vs. Andrew Westney Battle of the Decades: The 1980s game 2.
Leszek previously appeared on Jeopardy! as Leszek Pawlowicz in the following archived game:
#4720, aired 2005-02-25 Tad Carithers vs. Leszek Pawlowicz vs. Al Lin 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions Round 1, game 13.

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