Assistant Professor Jim Coder had his 15 minutes of fame last summer when he appeared as a contestant on Jeopardy!.
Coder appeared on the June 16th episode, and despite coming in third place, played very well against a returning six-day champion.
The whole experience was surreal for Coder.
“I was awestruck when I heard Johnny Gilbert say, ‘This. Is. Jeopardy!,’ and saw Alex Trebek walk out on stage; and then hearing Gilbert announce my name cemented the feeling of it being real,” said Coder.
Being interviewed with Trebek was nerve-racking, and Coder expected the conversation to be short and forced before moving on to the next contestant, but that wasn’t the case. Trebek was fascinated that Coder taught aircraft design and kept asking questions about it. The producers had to edit out over half of the interview for the airing of the show.
The first round of the game went well for Coder, even getting a Daily Double. But, the second round was more challenging.
“I started getting trigger-happy on the buzzer, and getting locked out of the clues I knew,” said Coder.
In Final Jeopardy, Coder had $9,800, which would be a decent amount in most games, but it still left him in a distant third place. The last clue was tough and he missed the question, causing him to lose along with the six-day champion.
“When the taping was over, it was a flood of emotions—from being sad that I lost, to still being awestruck that I had been there, to the realization that I will never have another chance to be on the show again,” said Coder.
This appearance on Jeopardy! will probably be Coder’s only attempt at gaining fame from a game show.
“I don’t know if I want to be on another game show,” said Coder. “Some former Jeopardy! contestants try their luck on other game shows like Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, but I don’t know if that’s something I want to do. To me, Jeopardy! is the top of the intellectual game shows.”
Coder joined the MABE faculty last fall after his appearance on Jeopardy!.