UC Berkeley student places third on Jeopardy!

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Last Friday’s Jeopardy! pitted the three finalists – Terry O’Shea, Tucker Pope and Kevin Shen – against one another to determine who would receive $100,000 and a spot to compete in the Tournament of Champions. Shen began the first round in the last place with $8,765.

The first category chosen, “Johnny Gilbert Performs Today’s Hits,” featured the golden voice of Jeopardy! announcer Johnny Gilbert in a hilarious rendition of song lyrics from the likes of Beyonce, Ylvis and Eminem. Shen correctly identified two of the five pop artists, while O’Shea fell behind at -$800 with her incorrect response, “Who is Kanye West?” (Clue: “I’m beginning to feel like a Rap God, Rap God / All my people from the front to the back nod, back nod”)

By the end of the first round, O’Shea continued to lead with $4,600 while Shen followed closely behind with $3,400 — still not enough to raise him up to second place.

As Double Jeopardy! began, we had high hopes for Shen. But a Daily Double! under the category “Put It There” took a $2,000 chunk from his $4,600 earnings after he incorrectly responded to “Tarp programs: this cabinet department” (Correct answer: What is the Treasury Department?). O’Shea led the game and Shen trailed behind.

But the setback didn’t seem to shake Shen. Correctly answering most of the clues under “Figuring Out The Universe,” excitement rose as the last clue under the category revealed a Daily Double!. Muttering “I’m gonna regret this,” Shen wagered all $7,000 of his earnings. The clue, “Doing physics experiments deep in the earth protects the results from being contaminated by these rays, from the Greek for universe” put him in a corner, and with puckered lips he answered, “What is gamma?”

The correct answer was, “What is cosmic?”

With only one category left and almost $10,000 behind, there was not much hope for Shen. O’Shea swept through the clues under “‘Ony’ Baloney,” garnering $4,000 in a matter of seconds.

Tucker Pope went all in on the final clue, “1713’s Treaty of Utrecht concluding the war of the Spanish Succession granted this small 2.3-square mile area to Great Britain,” but answered incorrectly with “Hong Kong” (correct answer: Gibraltar). His total from Thursday, however, was still greater than Shen’s. This kept him in second place and Shen in last.

At the conclusion of the game, Terry O’Shea emerged victorious with a two-day total of $37,800.

Although he didn’t take home the trophy, Kevin Shen totally rocked our socks and walked away with $25,000. The mathematics and computer science double major from Cupertino became one of six people to have ever represented UC Berkeley on Jeopardy! College Tournament — and that’s pretty cool.

Contact Raymond Yang at [email protected].

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