QUIZ WHIZ: By the time he started kindergarten, Greg Lichtenstein ’12 could already name every US president in order. “I’ve always liked trivia and wanted to be on Jeopardy!,” he says. Last spring, Lichtenstein’s wish was granted. After completing an online quiz and a live audition, he landed one of 15 coveted spots and spent his spring break at Sony Studios in Los Angeles, competing in the Jeopardy! 2009 College Championship.
“I actually didn’t do much prep for the show,” recalls Lichtenstein, an aspiring history major from Plainview, NY. “Obviously I was a bit nervous, but I was mainly surprised by how much fun it all was.” Shortly after he returned from the taping, Vassar students eagerly gathered for a live screening, as they watched Lichtenstein, sporting a maroon Vassar sweatshirt, fire off answers in the form of questions. The first Vassar student ever to compete on the show, Lichtenstein stormed through the first round victoriously and was the only first-year student to advance to the semifinals. “I was just so excited to be continuing,” he says. “I felt proud that I represented Vassar well.”
With the suspense mounting on campus, and Lichtenstein remaining tightlipped about the show’s outcome, students gathered to watch the semifinals the following week. Lichtenstein breezed through questions concerning Nobel Prize winners, famous knights of the Crusades, and ant mating behaviors, as he led his opponents into the final round. He ultimately finished the game in second place, walking away with $10,000 for his efforts.
“It was a great experience and everyone on the show is very funny and personable, and it was fun meeting the host, Alex, too,” he says, adding that he would love to spend part of his prize money on a South African safari. “All in all, I would rank Jeopardy! pretty high on my list of life highlights.”