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Are you as smart as UVA’s Jeopardy contestants?

This is Jeopardy! It’s the TV quiz show that brings us together. Who among us hasn’t sat around a living room or a college dorm room and pitted our brains against the three contestants on the TV, seduced by an untiring interest in trivia and the idea that, perhaps, we’ll know the question that stumps the contestants on screen? How could you resist participating in the national debate: Does Alex Trebek look better with or without a mustache?

Learn about UVA alumni and students who have been recent contestants and test your own trivia knowledge against their correct responses on the show.

Dave Belote with Alex Trebek

Who is Dave Belote? Belote (Col ’85) is now the commanding officer at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. “I’ve been a fan of Jeopardy forever,” he says, dating back to his UVA days, when he played Trivial Pursuit with his buddies. “They were cutthroat games,” he says. The years passed and Jeopardy was always on in the background when he and his wife—Pamela R. Belote (Col ’86)—were cooking dinner or fussing at the teenagers to get their homework done. The decision to compete on the show seemed natural. “I had more fun than I can possibly describe,” he says, referring to his impressive six-show run. Belote now stands at No. 13 on the all-time winnings list.

Who is S.R. Sidarth? Now in law school at George Washington University, Sidarth (Eng ’07) did little preparation for the show, maintaining that it’s a “lifelong accumulation of knowledge” that allows you to get ahead. Participating on academic teams at UVA probably didn’t hurt, either. But what’s it like to see yourself on TV? “You don’t notice your own mannerisms, so it was interesting to see my own facial expressions,” he says. Coincidentally, he was on the same show as Dave Belote. “I did study some things around the time I went on,” he says. “But I was playing against a military commander, so that sort of negated my research.”

Who is Kadeem Cooper? “It’s a strange experience, being on stage with the lights in your eyes,” says Cooper (Col ’10), who decided, on a whim, to compete in the Jeopardy college championship after seeing an ad for the auditions. “I tried out and made it,” he says. “I was sort of surprised.” Another surprise was how small the set was when he actually got there. “There are only three or four feet between you and Alex Trebek,” he says. “In the 15 seconds that I interacted with him, he seemed like a nice guy.” Eventually coming in third might have been disappointing, but, “When the show aired, I had a mini party with friends.”

Who is Nick Gorski? This financial journalist and former English major wanted to go on the show since he was a kid. “Growing up, I had both the Jeopardy books,” Gorski (Col ’07) says. He recently moved into an apartment without cable, and so fell back into watching regularly at 7:30. At the end of one of the shows, he saw the ad for auditions. The rest is history. “It was the most bizarre thing,” he says, of seeing himself on stage. “Because everything is reversed, I thought my hair looked really weird, because I’m used to seeing it parted one way.” To celebrate, a bunch of friends gathered at a bar for the airing. “It was great to hear everyone cheering when I got something right, and booing when someone else got something right.” But there was something that those watching TV couldn’t see: When they were running the credits, “Alex Trebek told me to keep an eye on those bankers.”

Jeopardy Quiz

Test your trivia knowledge with these answers that were given by UVA alumni and students on Jeopardy: