Web Exclusive: College Trivia

Web Exclusive: College Trivia

Whitman High School grad wins $53,800 on Jeopardy!

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Though he had just taped three episodes of Jeopardy! on March 2, Bethesda resident Adam Marshall still faced the responsibilities of a college student. The 2008 Walt Whitman High School graduate boarded a red-eye flight from Los Angeles and returned to Waterville, Maine in time to attend class at Colby College the next morning. Unlike his fellow students, Marshall had just earned two victories on the nationally-televised game show. But for months, he had to keep his success a secret.

While his friends were curious to learn the results of the competition, Marshall stayed quiet. “To not tell anybody was really hard,” the 20-year-old says. In fact, until early last week, only his parents, brother and maternal grandparents—all present in the audience during the taping of the show—knew just how successful Marshall had been during his visit to L.A.

When Marshall’s episodes aired from June 27-29, friends, classmates and viewers from across the nation tuned in to watch the rising college senior win a grand total of $53,800 over the three-episode period. The inbox on Marshall’s phone quickly grew full with congratulatory messages, and the praise continued on his Facebook page. “It was ridiculous,” Marshall says. “Every time I would sign on…someone would message me, I’d have two dozen or so friend requests from people who have no mutual friends just sitting there, and half of them have a little note attached saying ‘hey, congrats…’”

Marshall, who competed for Whitman’s Quiz Bowl team and appeared on It’s Academic, was no novice to the trivia world. It was while he was a freshman at Colby, during the 2008-2009 academic year, that Marshall took tests—first online, and then in-person, to verify his results—for both college and adult Jeopardy!

It wasn’t until late January 2011 that Marshall received a call from a contestant coordinator inviting him to appear on Jeopardy! When his phone rang, Marshall was at Colby, playing a game of pool. “It was ridiculous, ‘cause I looked at the number…and the Los Angeles area code is 310, so I thought it was just a 301 number…,” he says, referring to the Maryland area code. “About 30 seconds in [the contestant coordinator] asked if I was free to fly out to Los Angeles in a month.”

Once Marshall arrived on set, the game moved quickly. “After I won the first show, I was sent into the green room to change clothes and I had to come out and tape the second show 10 minutes later,” he says.

After winning the first episode, Marshall was determined to keep his success alive. “It didn’t really sink in that I won the first show until maybe halfway through the Jeopardy! round of the second show when I was behind,” he says. “I was like, wait a minute, I won the first show…I can’t lose so soon after winning.”

Marshall left the first two shows with victories, earning a total of $51,800. Although fellow Marylander Jeff Amoros beat Marshall during his third episode, Marshall still collected a $2,000 consolation prize, bringing his grand total to $53,800—“which my dad told me on the ride back from Colby is exactly the full-year comprehensive fee,” Marshall says.

However, Marshall doesn’t plan to use his earnings—which he won’t receive until the fall—for college tuition. “I don’t have specific plans for the bulk of it,” he says. “I’ll probably put it in some sort of savings account.” As he points out, “My parents hadn’t really taken the possibility of me getting on Jeopardy! and winning exactly Colby’s comprehensive fee…into account when they were making plans when I first got into Colby.”

To watch interviews with Marshall after his wins, click here.

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