When Paul Wampler ’92 was selected as a contestant for Jeopardy last year, he did his best to refresh his knowledge of topics that frequently appear on the show – American presidents, Greek mythology – and thought back to some of his favorite Princeton courses, including one on Shakespeare and another that covered the Civil War. He also read about Jeopardy strategy in a book written by Ken Jennings, who won a record 74 consecutive games on the show.
The trivia preparation didn’t help a great deal (“There’s really no way to study,” Wampler says), but Jennings’ advice did. Each time a category was revealed, Wampler began thinking of responses that might fit, even before he saw the clues. Having those words on the tip of his tongue paid off: In five shows that aired last week, Wampler won four times and placed second in his final appearance, pocketing more than $74,000 in prize money. He’s exchanged e-mails with Jennings, thanking him for the tips.
February has been a remarkable month for Wampler, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based Web designer who majored in psychology at Princeton. His wife, Christi, gave birth to the couple’s second son a week before Paul’s first episode aired. Wampler plans to put most of the winnings toward his sons’ college savings. A European vacation also is in the works.
Wampler wasn’t the first in his household to earn a Jeopardy tryout: Christi was invited to audition twice but had to decline due to scheduling conflicts. She recently took the show’s online test again, in hopes of getting a third chance – and maybe topping Paul’s five-day run. “She says she’s not that competitive,” Wampler laughs, “but I know she is.”
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