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Meet 'Jeopardy!' champion, and UT student, Jaskaran Singh

a man wearing a red turban and orange University of Texas sweatshirt holding a trophy he won at Jeopardy, with a blue map of the united states in the background of the jeopardy set he's standing on
Courtesy "Jeopardy!"
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Jaskaran Singh holding his "Jeopardy!" trophy.

Singh won the game show's the first-ever National College Championship

From Texas Standard:

University of Texas at Austin senior, Jaskaran Singh, was crowned "Jeopardy! " college champion after winning 18 games against opponents from universities across the country.

Singh competed against 36 opponents in total, all while sporting a burnt-orange sweatshirt in honor of his alma mater. He won a total of $250,000, and plans to compete on the show again in its Tournament of Champions.

Listen to the interview with Singh in the audio player above or read the transcript below to learn more.

This interview has been edited lightly for clarity.

The Texas Standard: So what prompted you to try out for "Jeopardy!" In the first place?

Jaskaran Singh: I watched it when I was really young, like 5, 6 or 7, and I tried out once when I was 13 and didn't make it. But my mom let me know last year, she was like, "Hey, you should try again. What’s the worst that could happen?" So I took the online test, got invited to a Zoom audition and then after six months, they asked me if I wanted to be on and I was on.

Did you prepare when you were first selected?

So there isn't really much preparation in the way of studying or anything like that. I think most of it comes down to, like, through your life, have you read a lot of the stuff that "Jeopardy!" would ask about? I think the best thing that I did was watch old "Jeopardy!" episodes and then clicking on a pen at home simulates the buzzer. So hitting the end of the pen at home, that was good prep.

How did practicing at home differ from the real competition? Were you nervous in front of the TV audience? 

Absolutely; it's not live, but you still have the TV atmosphere around it. There's lights bearing down on you, you have makeup on. They make you wear your college sweatshirt, so I was wearing my Texas sweatshirt. Everything about it felt unnatural, besides, obviously, playing the game.

Did you feel pressure to represent your school?

Not particularly. I just felt like if I did as best as I could, it would be fine. And I guess I did as best I could and it was fine, right?

What was going through your mind during that final "Jeopardy!" question in the championship? 

I was just making sure I did the math correctly over and over again. Because by that point, I had wagered at $0 and I was like, "I'm pretty sure I can wager this amount and still win." And I kept checking it and there was a moment where I freaked out and thought, "Oh, did I do something wrong?" But then I was like, "It's too late to change it, who cares?" And then I got the answer right anyways but it didn't matter, obviously. And yeah, I came away with a win.

After your victory, you tweeted, "no chance i'm going to class tomorrow." When you did return to class, what was the response from folks on campus? 

I went through a Zoom class on Thursday, so that Wednesday I didn't go to class, but on Thursday I got into a Zoom class. So, I just started getting back into the routine of things. I still have some work to catch up on, actually.

Do your colleagues and professors know about your "Jeopardy!" win?

Yeah, I've gotten emails from professors. I mean, the support from UT has been just overwhelming. From the students, professors, the faculty, alumni, everyone, it's just been amazing to see everyone reach out and give me their well-wishes and congrats and everything. Everywhere I go, I get recognized a few times, which is pretty wild.

We often hear about the money and notoriety from game shows changing people's lives. Do you think this experience has changed your life in any way?

I think so. I think it's just an amazing thing, especially as a guy with a turban to be on TV and represent UT. I'm so glad I did well and did the best I could because, frankly, a lot of guys with turbans don't get on TV, right? It was just good to get on and show out for the community, UT and everyone. So I'm just really glad it happened.

Is there a chance we might be seeing you on TV again? 

Yes, there is a chance, actually. So this fall, I'll be taping for the Tournament of Champions, which is where "Jeopardy!" invites all the winners of the previous year to come down and compete against each other for another grand prize. Not sure how much it is, but it's going to be really exciting and there will be stiff competition. And hopefully I can rep UT again.

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