Terry O’Shea ’16 won the 2014 Jeopardy! College Tournament, making her the tournament’s first ever Princeton and Ivy League champion. Despite filming the final round about a month ago, O’Shea has had to keep quiet about her success until the final episode aired Feb. 21. The wait did not, however, diminish the excitement when the news broke.
“The Princeton reaction has been overwhelmingly supportive. I’ve gotten emails and Facebook messages from so many people, people I’ve lost touch with, some people I’ve never met,” O’Shea said. “I even received an email from a Princeton alumnus to congratulate me. He had also been on the show, and he wished me luck during the Tournament of Champions.”
At Princeton, O’Shea is tentatively majoring in English with a certificate in French. She works as the assistant prose editor for The Nassau Literary Review, the co-editor-in-chief for The Public Journal, and is a member of the Bee Team. The Princeton organization that had the most immediate impact on her exceptional Jeopardy! performance, however, can be found taking over the Mathey College Common Room on select weeknights.
“I’m a regular at Mathey Trivia Night. Twice so far the organizer has asked a question about what the fruit of a rose plant is called,” O’Shea said. “It’s called a hip, and that was a $2,000 question during the tournament.”
Of course, Mathey Trivia Nights are no breeze. “I do all right. Honestly, the Mathey Trivia questions are much more in-depth than the Jeopardy! questions. Jeopardy! is more breadth than depth,” she said.
O’Shea, a lifelong Jeopardy! fan, has been watching the College Tournament episodes as they’ve aired. “It’s surreal, especially in my games,” she said. “There are so many questions where I answered them correctly and then, as I was watching, I didn’t know them. And then there are, of course, the questions that I got wrong, where I feel like I forgot a really obvious answer.”
In addition to the distinction of winning (and putting Princeton in the Jeopardy! College Tournament record books), O’Shea took home $100,000 in prize money. Outside of a donation to Doctors Without Borders, she has few set plans for her winnings.
For now, O’Shea plans on returning to Mathey Trivia Night. “I’m worried what people will think once my team starts losing,” O’Shea admitted, laughing. “But, at the same time, it’s so much fun that I can’t stay away.”