West Side Story

     This is it – Part one of my interview with 5-time champ and 2010 Tournament of Champions finalist Stefan Goodreau.

     Stefan’s regular-season wins came on the last 5 games of season 25, airing in July 2009. According to j-archive.com, he earned $84,870 from those episodes, then an additional $2,000 when he finished in second place on his 6th episode.  He came in third in the Tournament of Champions, earning an additional $50,000.  Vijay Balse, who I interviewed in 2010, won that tournament.  Stephen Weingarten and Ryan Chaffee were also in that tournament.
     Stefan’s father John was a one-time champ in season 24, and in fact he and Stefan auditioned at the same time.  I thought this would’ve felt weird, but Stefan said, “Not at all.  I was glad to have a ride!”  (Stefan says he got his license this year and wants a car, but doesn’t want to shop for one.)  Stefan took the test in person in 2005, before the dawn of the online test.  He did not pass at that time.  It was too soon after his first test to take it online in 2006.  He took it in 2007.  His dad got The Call a few months after their audition.  Stefan took the test again in 2009 but got the The Call himself (likely the result of the 2007 test and audition) a month after that!  His dad, grandmother, one of his aunts, and his younger sister watched him tape.  Like me, he only told immediate family the result of his appearance before it aired.
     Having recently studied before my own Jeopardy! taping, I asked Stefan if he studied before his regular season appearance and before the ToC.  He said, “I looked at world capitals before my regular shows, and really got them down before the ToC.  I started trying to learn vice presidents before my first appearance, but lost interest.  I had a notebook that I thought I’d fill with ToC notes, but I ended up only writing a small list of possible topics (which I ended up never studying) and the five D-Day beaches (one of which came up in my quarter-final!). Mostly I ended up deciding that my state of mind was more important than what was in it.”  He did keep track of his Coryat score “faithfully” from September 2008 to March 2010. 
     Stefan is the second of five children (three boys and two girls).  Asked whether any other family members were interested in being on Jeopardy!, he said, “Even if my mom considered herself Jeopardy! material, she has no interest in being on TV; my younger sister is similar.  My two brothers aren’t exactly Jeopardy!-minded either, although one has been on TV as a team handball player and the other has done stage acting.”  He adds, “My older sister is unabashed, and closest to my mind in retention of factual knowledge, but she’s a bit too busy raising a son to build up her Jeopardy! skills.”  Stefan has just the one nephew.
     Stefan says he did not get recognized much from being on the show.  He said someone recognized him on the subway once, but it may have been because he was carrying his Jeopardy! bag.  Someone else thought he looked familiar once, and remembered him once Stefan mentioned Jeopardy!  I expressed surprise that he wasn’t recognized more often, and he said, “Los Angeles has real celebrities to look out for!”
     Of course, to me, and probably you, 5+-time Jeopardy! champs are celebrities.  I saw several at O’Brien’s Pub when I was in Los Angeles last month.  Come back tomorrow for details on the weekly quiz.  (And don’t forget you can leave comments below!)