‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Eric Ahasic Tells Future Players ‘Nothing Prepares You For the Buzzer’
Eric Ahasic’s winning streak on Jeopardy! came to an end on June 14. Clinching six consecutive games including one that defeated champ Ryan Long, Ahasic earned his place in the 2022 Tournament of Champions. The Minnesota resident has some advice for potential contestants who want to try their luck at the quiz board.
‘Jeopardy!’ champ lost by $2
Ahasic lost to California attorney Megan Wachspress after getting stumped on the Final Jeopardy clue in the category “1972”: “In June he said, ‘Don’t lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is … a comedy of errors.’ ”
The correct response? “What is Richard Nixon?”
Wachpress was the only contestant who nailed the clue. Professor Barry Margulies wrote down H.R. Haldeman, and Ahasic made a guess with John Dean. The meteorologist lost by only $2 but ended his six-game winning streak with a total of $160,601.
“I totally overthought that one,” Ahasic remarked, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. “My first thought was disappointment. No one wants to lose. But then, honestly, I felt some relief. It was an emotional rollercoaster.”
Eric Ahasic called ‘Jeopardy!’ taping days ‘grueling
Though Jeopardy! viewers saw Ahasic in action for six days, the game show’s taping schedule is much more rigorous than wrapping just one episode per day.
“They shoot the episodes back to back to back,” Ahasic said. “You’ve barely realized you won, they take you off set, you change your clothes, get touched up and you’re back on set to do it again. It was a grueling day, physically and mentally. I was shaking at times with nerves. You don’t get a lot of time to sit back and reflect.”
And then there’s the buzzer. Many of Ahasic’s Jeopardy! predecessors have shared how they practiced for the vital skill, but the Minneapolis meteorologist felt that it takes time to get acclimated once you’re on the air.
“Nothing prepares you for the buzzer,” Ahasic told the Star Tribune. “Everyone knows about half the answers, so who is faster makes a difference. But it’s not just speed. If you buzz in too early, you get locked out for a quarter of a second. You don’t really know how it works until you get here. You have to get into a rhythm.”
‘Jeopardy!’ GOAT Ken Jennings used a child’s toy for buzzer practice
Ken Jennings still holds the record for most consecutive wins after his record-breaking run of 74 games in 2004. Now holding the titles of Greatest of All Time, consulting producer, and guest host on Jeopardy!, Jennings previously revealed how he prepared for his very first game.
“I set new nerdiness records by deciding to start watching Jeopardy! (a) twice a day, (b) standing up behind my recliner to imitate the podium experience, and (c) hammering my thumb on my toddler’s Fisher-Price ring-stack toy, which I figured was about the same size as the Jeopardy! buzzer,” he explained, according to his website KenJennings.com. “I looked and felt like an idiot, but I think it helped.”
The Jeopardy! GOAT considers proficiency on the buzzer as a deciding factor among contestants.
“If you watch Jeopardy! casually, it’s easy to assume that the player doing most of the answering is the one who knew the most answers, but that’s not necessarily true,” Jennings noted. “Most of the contestants can answer most of the questions. But Jeopardy! victory most often goes not to the biggest brain; it goes to the smoothest thumb.”