BU Today

Arts & Entertainment

Who Is Erin McLean?

Jeopardy!’s new college champ, that’s who


Erin McLean took home $100,000 as college champ on the long-running game show Jeopardy! Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

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 barlowr@bu.edu.


12 Comments on Who Is Erin McLean?

  • Anonymous on 11.23.2010 at 6:19 am

    She is wicked smaht!

    Go, Erin. Represent.

  • Anonymous on 11.23.2010 at 7:25 am

    Congratulations to Erin!! She represented herself and the University beautifully.

  • Kristina on 11.23.2010 at 8:52 am

    BU should give her a scholarship so she doesn’t have to spend her winnings on paying back student loans!!! Thank a student for giving the university some great press.

  • LB on 11.23.2010 at 9:04 am

    That is so awesome! Congratulations Erin! I watched throughout but I couldn’t figure out when the Final were when CBS changed the broadcast times.

  • Anonymous on 11.23.2010 at 9:16 am

    Geez, she should get a full-ride for being able to win Jeopardy! I don’t think $65k will go too far in terms of paying for school. Congrats Erin, that’s great though!

  • Anonymous on 11.23.2010 at 11:47 am

    We are so proud!

    My wife and I watched every episode except the final and had to go on oine to find out she won. What a performance. Congratulaitons Erin; you made us all proud.

  • Veronica Styles on 11.23.2010 at 1:51 pm


    Anyone have any idea what she’s studying at BU?

  • Anonymous on 11.23.2010 at 3:16 pm

    Donate part of it, do good=good karma!

    I know we all have our dreams and a list of over 10 pages of things we want, me me me, PLEASE show some compassion and donate some of the money. It’s a good example to others and good for your soul. Karma never forgets!

  • Anonymous on 11.23.2010 at 6:58 pm

    That's right! BU, she deserves a merit scholarship!

    Congratulations, Erin! You are a real role model!

  • Bill on 11.24.2010 at 7:21 am



  • Anonymous on 12.01.2010 at 12:28 pm

    Karma is the effect of all deeds actively created in past, present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one’s own life.

    team building phoenix

  • Anonymous on 12.08.2010 at 9:10 pm

    Congratulations, Erin! You deserved to win the Championship, and you did Boston University proud.

Post Your Comment

(never shown)