Will Barrett Block of Henry Clay High School be the next Jeopardy! Teen Tournament champion to come out of Lexington?
Barrett, 17, a senior at Henry Clay, recently traveled to the Los Angeles area to compete on the television quiz show's annual high school showdown. Episodes of the tournament began last week, but Barrett won't appear until Tuesday. Jeopardy!, which is syndicated, airs at 7:30 p.m. weeknights on WKYT (Channel 27).
Nearly 10,000 teens took the online test, the show says, but only 15 got to compete to win the $75,000 grand prize.
To prepare, Barrett studied at a website called J! Archive (J-archive.com), which transcribes every episode of the quiz show. Barrett says he examined every match for the past 10 years.
"Every moment I had to spare, I spent studying," Barrett said.
He credits the time he has spent on academic team with whetting his appetite for the kind of knowledge that is lucrative for Jeopardy! contestants.
Academic competition "made my passion for trivia bloom," Barrett said.
He said he wasn't nervous about appearing on a television competition.
"I never at any moment was frightened by being onstage," Barrett said. "It felt perfectly natural. ... I was tremendously excited and focused."
"He's a remarkable student," said Barrett's mother, Michelle Block. "He's always been into trivia. ... It's been a wonderful experience for him."
The Block family includes Barrett's father, Philip, and his sister, Hillary, 15.
Barrett says he does not know where he will attend college; he has applied to colleges including Harvard, Stanford, Yale and MIT.
Friends who had appeared on Jeopardy! told him that the most important thing he could do was "just go on and don't freak out."
Neither Barrett nor his mother was allowed to reveal how he fared in the tournament, which continues through Feb. 12.
Barrett would only say that he took risks, going "all in" on several Daily Doubles and the final Jeopardy! question. "They all paid off," he said.
Lexington students have fared well in the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament. In 2006, Papa Chakravarthy of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School won, following fellow Dunbar students John Zhang in 2003 and Fraser Woodford in 1993.
If Barrett wins, the money could be useful for his future war chest: His ultimate goal is to return to Kentucky and go into politics.
Watch introduction videos from Barrett Block and other Jeopardy! Teen Tournament contestants at Bit.ly/XtFnt1.