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When Justin Bernbach got the call earlier this year inviting him on “Jeopardy!” he thought maybe he’d be lucky and win one game.
This Friday, May 29, tune in as the Park Slope dad returns to the small screen as the popular trivia show’s six−day champion.
Bernbach’s domination began last Thursday, May 21, when the American Airlines lobbyist competed against two other contestants for a chance at prize money and a place in “Jeopardy!” history. The actual taping happened this past February, when, after doing well on an online test, then an in−person interview and further testing, Bernbach was invited to compete and share the stage with Alex Trebek.
“I always figured I would try to get on at some point,” said Bernbach, 37, who’s been a fan of the show since he was a teenager and was always the “brain kid.” “I was a middling athlete, but during relays [at camp], I never got the tasks that had to do with shooting 10 free−throws in a row. I always got the puzzles.”
In general, Bernbach considers himself a big reader, crossword person and trivia buff. Before the two−day taping this past February, he prepared by looking at general reference books, atlases, almanacs, and “a very, very short encyclopedia,” as well as at a Web site that archives “Jeopardy!” questions and answers.
It paid off – after six days on the show, Bernbach has claimed over $100,000 in prize money. Nailing several of the Final Jeopardy! rounds certainly helped procure his lead, including the one in this past Monday’s show. “On September 23, 1952 some 60 million people, the largest TV audience to that time, tuned in for this live address” was the answer. The question, which the politics major in college was easily able to deduce: “What is the Checkers Speech?”
Despite his success, Bernbach was hoping to just beat the odds and win one game while on the show.
“There was a part of me that thought I would freak out and curl up in the fetal position,” said Bernbach. “My real goal was to win one game. I definitely far exceeded that.”
Another goal of Bernbach’s was to mention his family on the air. After shout−outs in the introductory portion of the show to his wife, Valerie Lewis, on Thursday, his 9−month−old son, Gavin, on Friday, and his 3−year−old daughter, Lindsay, on Monday, he got them all in, with some shows to spare, too.
With his earnings, the family looks to upgrade to a three−bedroom apartment in Park Slope, and maybe get a parking space, too.
“They asked me that question on the air,” said Bernbach, who mentioned his desire for a spot in the neighborhood after one of his earlier victories. “I’m sure half the country would have been, What the hell is he talking about? But I’m sure Brooklyn understood.”
To watch Justin Bernbach continue his week−long reign on the show, tune in to “Jeopardy!” this Friday, May 29, at 7 p.m. on Channel 7.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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