In a gripping final round that aired Friday, April 21, Dhruv Gaur ’21 was crowned the “Jeopardy!” College Championship grand prize winner, taking home $100,000. Along with the cash prize, Gaur guaranteed himself a spot in the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions. Gaur overtook second place winner William Scott, a first-year at Tufts University who earned $50,000, and Hannah Sage, a sophomore at the University of Central Florida who secured the third spot and went home with $25,000.
Describing the moment when he won, Gaur said, “It was just kind of surreal. … I didn’t even think about it until I was actually in the finals, and then when it did happen, it was crazy.”
Cameron Tripp ’21, Gaur’s best friend, was just as excited. “I just couldn’t really believe it. I knew that he won, I just couldn’t believe that he did,” he said.
After Gaur’s victory, “I didn’t say anything to him,” he said. “I picked him up by his legs and threw him over my shoulder, and I ran him down two flights of stairs … out the door, and poured apple cider everywhere.”
While Gaur’s win was a shock for the audience and his friends, he had been aware of the results since they filmed the show in March. Keeping the secret was “so hard,” according to Gaur. “A lot of people were pestering me about it, and at a certain point my strategy was just to lie. … I would be like, 'Okay, I got fifth,' and then the next day, I got third, and eventually people were like, ‘Okay, we can’t believe anything.’”
The experience was a whirlwind for Gaur. All five of the quarter-finals were filmed on the same day; the semi-finals and finals were also taped within 24 hours of each other. There was no time to prepare between each round. But, the experience brought him closer to his fellow competitors. “I think in the finals especially, because they had the three of us away from all the other contestants, we got really close,” Gaur said.
Gaur has few regrets after participating in the competition. “I threw out some dumb answers a couple of times, I said altitude instead of amplitude. But, in hindsight, that didn’t affect anything.” Gaur said. If given a chance to do the competition over again, he “would have looked less serious in the first game,” he added. But overall, Gaur has a positive view of his experience. “There were so many good parts. I think the best part was the people. The people working at ‘Jeopardy!,’ the other contestants, just getting to know everyone,” he said.
Gaur plans to hold on to most of his $100,000 prize, he said. “I think I’m going to invest most of it, try to make it grow a little bit, try to get some of those taxes back, and then later when I really need it for grad school or for something important, then I’ll have a large amount of money that I can tap into.”
Looking ahead to the more immediate future, Gaur is excited to participate in the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions, which will include all of the “Jeopardy!” super winners — the winners from the last two years.
“We’re trying to get him to prepare hard-core,” Tripp said. While the college championship is focused more on academic questions, “‘Jeopardy!’ by itself is just a bunch of random facts a lot of the time,” he added. Usually college champions don’t get much further than the semi-finals, but “I think he has a good chance of making it further than any other college champion has made it so far,” he added.
But while Tripp is eager to help Gaur start preparing for the Tournament of Champions, “I might give it a little break,” Gaur said. “I’m a little ‘Jeopardy!’d out.”