Who Is Erin McLean?
Jeopardy!’s new college champ, that’s who
Erin McLean nosed out competitors from Yale and Southern Adventist to take the College Championship edition of Jeopardy! broadcast last Friday. McLean wasn’t able to watch her victory on TV’s longest-running game show, but she did even better: she was at the BU–University of New Hampshire hockey game Saturday at Agganis Arena, when her victory was announced.
“Having 6,000-plus people clap and bow to me was pretty freaking sweet,” says McLean (CAS’13).
Taxes will whittle the $100,000 prize money she took home to about $65,000. McLean says she’ll use her winnings to pay off student loans and for “going somewhere sweet for spring break,” with Mexico and London as possibilities. She also plans to get a computer, then save whatever money’s left.
A lifelong Jeopardy! viewer who for years had longed to be a contestant, McLean confesses to the jitters throughout the actual experience, two grueling all-day-long taping sessions in October. As fans know, the show’s gimmick is to give an “answer,” and contestants must come up with the question, phrasing it in question form. The final Jeopardy! “answer” in the championship game was, “Several species appear in the logo of the U.N.’s International Year of this 12-letter word, vital to the health of life on Earth.”
McLean fumbled that one (the question/answer was “What is biodiversity?”), but still had more money at game’s end than her two opponents.
“I was really shocked that I won,” she says. “If you watch the episode, you see I have no idea that I’ve won until Alex says so.” (For extraterrestrials, that’s show host Alex Trebek.) “It was so emotional when he announced that I won—I was literally speechless and stunned.”
Jeopardy! which has aired in its current nighttime iteration since 1984, has run its special competition for college students since 1989. BU students have competed in three previous competitions, but had never won.
As for celebrating, the champ says she’s “not going nuts” for now, but predicts that over Thanksgiving “there will probably be something small while my friends and I are home.”
Rich Barlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments