Q & A with Eli Barrieau and John Pearson!

     Eli was a semifinalist in the Teachers Tournament, and John won it! (Check out John’s blog.) Thanks, guys!

Jeanie: You said you’ve been watching Jeopardy! “20 or 30 years.” How many times have you tried out?
Eli: This was my first time trying out, although the process took from January of last year, so I don’t know if they had me pegged for the Teachers Tournament from the interview or what. But it was nine months between online test and interview. Another nine months between interview and invitation.
Jeanie: Have you gotten any more comments after you said you don’t have a cellphone?
Eli: I always get comments about the cell phone. People don’t understand. They think it’s some kind of great political stand or as I read on the Jboards, some kind of boasting. It’s neither. I don’t need one. That’s it. Even if I had one, reception is very bad where I live, so what’s the use? I’m easy to get a hold of.
Jeanie: What was it like watching the finals in person?
Eli: Being able to watch the finals was awesome as a fan of the show. I was bugging everyone with the strategic breakdowns. My first game was overly cautious, so I was really excited to see the first semi-final match was just a street fight. And then in my semi-final I definitely was going for broke. The last few minutes, all of my answers had the quality of a dying man’s last pistol shot, especially the math category. For the finals itself, I think we were all shocked that John eked out the win on the first day. No disrespect to Becky and Mary Beth (especially since Mary Beth kicked my ass), but the general feeling was that John was the one to beat. Before his quarter final, someone asked my who i thought would win. I said John because he seemed quick on the buzzer even at the practice rounds. By the first commercial break, we were looking at each other open-mouthed. (BTW, how awesome were Becky and Mary Anne to come out of that with byes, never mind any money at all?). The other thing that made it so great was watching it with the other teachers. Rico and James had come down to the hotel lobby to travel with us just to watch! They had to take separate transport unfortunately. But I think that really shows the camaraderie that was present. We were rooting for each other. I’m hoping we can finagle some Tournament of Champion audience tickets from the producers so we can go cheer John.
Jeanie: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Eli: Watching myself was odd. I don’t think I’ve spent a more awkward 5 seconds than looking at my promos, so I was really dreading 23 minutes. But I was so into the game, I was fairly relaxed. In all, I think I looked ok. I’d like to watch the show again. There was a lot of screaming and talking, and I was trying to still keep the secret, so my viewing experience was a blur.
From Jeopardy!‘s Facebook page
Jeanie: I’ve seen some people complain that you misspelled “fleur-de-lis” in the quarterfinals. Have you heard or seen anything about it?
John: Oh sure, I saw a lot about my misspelling fleur-de-lis.  I honestly always thought it was spelled “leis.”  As in leisure, either, receive, etc.  I think that a whole lot of people are really upset with Jeopardy for not counting that “emanciptation” kid’s answer correct, and they see justification in criticizing every spelling judgment from here on out.  There were even several comments about how I should have lost the game because I spelled it wrong.  Those people just don’t understand.
Jeanie: I’ve seen speculation that you actually knew the answer to the Final on Friday. Care to comment?  I think I know who Drew is, but other people are wondering…?
John: Drew (Andrew) is my 18-month-old son.  I wanted to give him a little shout out that he might appreciate when he gets older, and I saw the opportunity in the last game.  After the Double Jeopardy round, when I looked at the score and did some quick math in my head, I saw that I had the game won.  Then I got terrified that I was doing the math wrong, so I spent about 5 minutes with scratch paper checking my math every way I could think of.  I must have checked it 7-8 times before I finally convinced myself that I did indeed have a lock game.  So I wrote $0 as my wager and decided to write that message to Drew.  As soon as Alex started reading the clue, I started writing, and believe it or not, I never even looked at the clue.  Last night, when I watched the show on tv, was the very first time I had ever seen that clue in print.  So as to whether or not I would have gotten it right… who knows?  I saw Mary Beth’s correct answer of Pakistan long before I ever saw the clue, so I can’t truly say whether I would have gotten it in those 30 seconds.
Jeanie: Did the contestant coordinators not ask you to avoid writing personal messages? They admonished us several times.
John: At the end of my quarter-final game, when I also had a lock in that one too, I asked Maggie if I could write “Hi, Drew” at the bottom of my answer.  She thought about it for a second then said, “Officially, you’re not supposed to, but you know what?  Go for it!”  Almost immediately, John the director was up at our podiums saying, “Remember, just write your answer, no shout outs, no smiley faces, nothing else.”  So I didn’t do it then. In the final game, I didn’t ask for permission. 🙂
Jeanie: Are you thinking at all about the Tournament of Champions?
John: I think it’s so awesome that I get to go back and play again at some point in the ToC.  However, I’m not giving it any serious thought just yet because I was told there would be no ToC this season because of the big 30 anniversary tournament.  So the earliest I would go back is end of season 31.  In the meantime, I’ve got Drew and school to occupy my small amount of free time.
Jeanie: Is there anything else you want to say?
John: I want to reiterate what Rico and James said about the teachers in this tournament.  What an incredible group of people.  They were fun to talk to, fun to hang out with, fun to play against.  And fun to keep in contact with!  We’ve become a tight-knit band of friends, and my life is so much the better for it!
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