Miami University chemistry graduate student Michael Bindis got second place in Jeopardy Tuesday night, winning a $2,000 prize and realizing a dream he held for a long time.
“I knew I would be on it someday,” Bindis said.
Bindis started slowly and accumulated only $800 at the end of the first round, but the ended the second with $7,600.
Staying within striking distance of his competitors-eventual champion Elza Reeves and defending two-day champion Tom Witek-Bindis eventually missed the final Jeopardy and finished the game with only a single dollar.
However, Bindis said his experience did not disappoint.
“I would like to try and be on another quiz-type show, like millionaire or something,” Bindis said. “Wearing make-up was a weird experience though.”
Bindis said the pressure of taping the show in front of an audience was different from any of the auditions or the rehearsal done prior to the taping.
Bindis said his inability to work the buzzer properly in the Jeopardy round led to his first round score. He said he knew the answers, but was unable to buzz in on time.
He said he did not study much for the show, claiming there was no way to prepare for everything that could be thrown at contestants. This includes the topic of the final Jeopardy question-tennis. Bindis said he was hoping for something a little more academic.
“I was disappointed when I saw that,” Bindis said.
As for other perks, Bindis said there is very little interaction between host Alex Trebek and the contestants.
“There was not much interaction between Trebek and the contestants,” Bindis said. “Only small banter at the end when he congratulated us.”
According to Bindis, the contestants interact a little bit with one another, but not a lot.
“We were in a room together for about an hour where they explained all the rules to us,” Bindis said. “After the show though, we were not allowed to speak with any of the other contestants.”
Bindis said his application process to be a contestant began in February 2007. He first had an online audition in which he took a 50-question test. Each hopeful applicant must score at least 38 out of 50 to garner consideration to move on to the next phase of auditions.
Bindis moved to the next phase in August 2007, an in-person audition. It was not until June 2008 that Bindis got the final call to be a contestant.
Bindis watched the episode with his research group Tuesday. Bindis’s chemistry professor, Stacey Lowery Bretz, watched the show with the group.
Lowery Bretz said she thought Bindis did well on the show.
“It is interesting having someone on the show that you know,” Lowery Bretz said.