With three consecutive wins under his belt, Binghamton University’s own Kevin Boettcher made a name for himself on ABC’s “Jeopardy!” before losing Friday night.
Boettcher, research development specialist for Harpur College, first appeared on “Jeopardy!” on Oct. 1 and earned a total of $73,403 throughout his time on the show, which lasted for three episodes.
According to a Q&A session on the BU Blog, Boettcher began his journey to the show in March 2018 by taking an online test. Because of his score, he was invited to audition in person months later, which included a mock interview modeled on what “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek does on the program. For the next 10 months, Boettcher waited in a contestant pool with no word from producers.
By the time Boettcher received the call of approval, he said he had forgotten he was in the contestant pool at all.
“The first week of July, though, I was at home cooking dinner and got a call from a random California number,” Boettcher said in the blog post. “It was a ‘Jeopardy!’ producer, who invited me to come out to [Los Angeles] for a taping at the start of August. The very next day, I booked a ticket and hotel room, and then immediately realized how underprepared I was.”
In the month between the phone call and the taping, Boettcher said he spent most of his time reading advice from former contestants and studying certain categories he was not as proficient in. Additionally, he said he would practice the ringing-in technique late into the night.
On the day taping began, Boettcher and other contestants were carpooled to the studio where they would do rehearsals before filming 10 different episodes across two days. Boettcher said they drew the contestants randomly and he was chosen to go on the second game of the day.
“They draw people randomly from the pool of 11 to 12 contestants on set, and you go up and do your thing,” Boettcher said in the blog post. “I was called for the second game, which meant that I didn’t have too much time to sit in the audience and get nervous while I watched the other contestants.”
“Jeopardy!” contestants are required to sign a nondisclosure agreement before appearing on the show, preventing any spoilers from getting out. Once the episodes began to air, Boettcher said he experienced random compliments and greetings from people around campus and the Binghamton community, including Binghamton Mayor Rich David and Rep. Anthony Brindisi. Still, he said the best part of his experience was the people he met on set.
“The best part was the people,” Boettcher said. “You spend basically the whole day with them, so it was a blessing that we had a particularly friendly and mutually supportive group. It was far more fun than I thought it would be.”
For “Jeopardy!” viewers who aspire to be on the show one day, Boettcher admitted there is a fair amount of luck that goes into it, but by watching and rewatching old episodes, viewers could have an upper hand in preparation.
“When you do the online test, sometimes it’s just a matter of there being a couple more questions that you know that other people don’t,” Boettcher said. “They reuse clues, they reuse formats. It’s hands down the best way to prepare. If I had an extra couple of weeks, I would have really drilled in on that.”