Brandon Randall, the current champion on Jeopardy!, has been a contributor to The Jeopardy! Fan since the early days of the site. In light of this, I’ve asked him to provide some thoughts and insight about his contestant experience during his run. Below are his final game’s thoughts, for June 28!
All good things come to an end, don’t they? It was disappointing to have my Jeopardy! run come to a close so soon, but I had such a terrific experience and to lose against such fantastic competitors (Nathan and William, both great guys, were seriously on fire with the buzzer and with their rather formidable knowledge base) … yeah, I can’t complain. Plus I was a 2-time champion! (I still can’t believe it completely, so I’ll keep telling myself it’s real.) One of my favorite contestants, Jennifer Morrow, was also a 2-day champ, so I have some pretty darn good company, I’d say. Here’s some thoughts on my final game:
- Oh, marmalade. I actually gave the same response while watching it back. I completely misread the clue and thought orange was referring to the fruit, not the color. I had also seen the movie “Paddington” a couple months before taping and I guess marmalade must have been on my mind, so all that plus the lights made for one of my more … interesting incorrect responses. Funnily enough, I’ve tried marmalade since taping, while in England on my study abroad. (I thought it was pretty good.) As for smoked salmon on bagels, my roommate actually has gotten smoked salmon-flavored cream cheese a few times (I opt for sweet rather than savory bagels myself), so it’s not like it was the first time I’ve heard of that combo.
- My other questionable neg prior to Final Jeopardy! was “racism” for microaggressions. I’ll chalk my invention of a new term (“microracism,” anyone? :)) to my increasingly desperate desire to catch up, but yeah, I probably wasn’t going to give the correct response under any circumstance, even though I’ve heard of the term a tiny bit before.
- Being a huge fan of Zooey Deschanel and many others identified as Manic Pixie Dream Girls, I was very familiar with what MPDG stood for. I was disappointed to get beaten to the buzzer on it (as was Nathan, it appears). Another heartbreaker was Miles Davis. I adore jazz music and “Kind of Blue” was probably the first instrumental jazz album I really fell in love with (I generally gravitate much more toward vocal jazz), so I really wanted to be able to get in on that clue. On the plus side, I was able to get my second Spanish-related clue, knowing that arms are “brazos” in the name of the Brazos River. I had to live up to my Hispanic heritage, after all.
- Alex misunderstood me a bit on my interview segment. When I said “there were a lot of Pips,” I was meaning to refer to the size of the backup choir I sang in … there were about 100 of us, all taken from the BYU choirs. Gladys is so fun and friendly and fantastic in person, and it was so great getting to work with her and see her up close. (I was singing in the front row of the choir, so I was about as close to Gladys as I could be.) We sang with her on two Mormon hymns, “I Am a Child of God” and “Love One Another.” She’s done both with her choir, the Saints Unified Voices, on an album that came out a while ago, and her versions were considerably more lively than the versions you’ll hear normally in LDS congregations. (She’s been on record saying she wants to spice Mormon music up a bit and put some “pep” into it.) We also got to sing backup for a YouTube singer, a cappella sensation Peter Hollens, on his cover of Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire.” I wasn’t too familiar with his stuff beforehand, but he really impressed me and was tons of fun during rehearsals and the performances.
- A lot of my preparation for “Jeopardy!” came from my frequent habit of looking up stuff on Wikipedia, often in chains where one thing led to another. One of those chains took me to Disneyworld one night, a month or two or more before my taping, and I remember reading about Walt Disney’s secretive method of buying up land in Florida. The name M.T. Lott wasn’t mentioned, but yeah, it really should have come to mind. Jimmy Hoffa was definitely a “well, I have to write down something” kind of situation. No idea why he was the one who came to mind. (It was pretty funny to look on Twitter after the broadcast and see some people joke about I must have thought Jimmy Hoffa built Hoffa World. :)) It’s comforting to know that even if I had given a correct response, Nathan wagered to lock me out, so I missed out on an extra $1000 rather than a win.
- While my family and I were waiting in line to get into the afternoon taping, we got to talk with Sarah from the Clue Crew (Jimmy also joined us for a little bit). She congratulated me on my wins and we talked a bit about the final, and I told her that no matter what, I’m still a big Disney fan. I watch Disney movies ALL the time, even now. (One of my roommates is an even bigger Disney fan, so we kind of feed off each other in that regard, plus Disney has always been a tradition in our family.) I think I also mentioned the irony of how the only final I got wrong was the thing I was probably most familiar with. We were also pleasantly surprised to find out Sarah grew up in Mesa, Arizona, our hometown. Both her and Jimmy were incredibly nice and it was so cool to have them compliment me on my performance. A lot of people told me I did a good job afterwards, in fact, which was surreal but so fun.
- If you’re wondering about that Nature Valley oat and honey bar: it was still on the green room table when I went to get my clothes at the end of the taping day. I decided to just leave it there (which I regretted a bit when we hit LA traffic hard on our way to get some dinner before my flight and my family’s drive back). 🙂
It was a treat to get to watch the next 2 games in the audience afterwards (both me and my family really enjoyed it, and despite all being incredibly hungry, we were glad we stayed). Somewhat to my surprise, I didn’t have get any “darn, I could have been in this game!” moments … it felt relaxing and interesting to be on the other side of things, and see the tapings in person, but without the pressure of playing. It’ll be fun to watch both games on TV these next two days (and see how the last returning champ I know about does on Monday). It’s been such an exhilarating ride, and I’ll treasure this experience for a lifetime, for sure.
Remember, you can also now get the following products (and others!) from our new store! Here are our top sellers; all prices are in US dollars!