'Jeopardy!' first-person: Confidence grew after early stumble

My favorite number as a kid was 3. Now, after winning on Tuesday's episode of Jeopardy!, it just might be 33,601, the total dollar amount I had at the end of the game.

The game started a little slow for me. I wasn't able to get the hang of the buzzer for several questions.

Then I stumbled on the first Daily Double, leaving me $400 in the hole. After I dug myself out, the rest of the game was a blur.

Somehow, though, at Final Jeopardy, I was in the lead with $19,600, a little ahead of the six-day champion, Jim Stevens of Fairview Park, Ohio.

Lucky for me, the Final Jeopardy category, “Political Rock 'n' Roll,” was akin to something I'd been expecting all along. Tuesday's game was actually taped on Nov. 4, Election Day, and presidents are a perennial category on Jeopardy!, so I felt sure that topic would show up somewhere during my episode. Besides that, the category tapped into my interest in music. I felt confident.

I made what I thought was a bold but sensible wager: $14,001.

My reasoning: If Stevens, an incredibly tough player, wagered his whole amount, got the question right and doubled his score, I needed to be $1 ahead of him to win.

“Early in his campaign, John McCain used this 1958 Chuck Berry hit as his theme song.”

Immediately, I knew the answer was Johnny B. Goode, even though I misspelled it. (Luckily, Jeopardy! doesn't penalize for misspellings.)

When the responses were revealed, Stevens got it right, too, but he made a modest wager.

That left me in first place with a nice chunk of change in my pocket and a spot in Wednesday's game. (That probably wasn't the last of Stevens, though; you'll surely see him in next year's Tournament of Champions.)

To see how I did in my second game, watch Jeopardy! at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday on WKYT (Channel 27).

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