“Experiences of a lifetime for $1,000, Alex.”
There never has been such a category on Jeopardy!, and Wesley Hom, BS’90, never said it. But it’s true nonetheless. The Creighton alumnus walked away with $1,000 after coming in third on the Jeopardy! episode that aired March 5, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that he said was fun though nerve-wracking.
Hom, a lawyer living in his hometown of San Francisco, clung to second place by accumulating $11,600 on the scoreboard by the time Final Jeopardy arrived, but lost most of it by gambling $8,601 in an effort to overcome the leader’s total of $20,200. Unable to resolve the clue, “A laboratory known as the House of Pain is on Noble’s Isle, the title setting of this novel,” (The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells) he dropped to third place and the mandatory $1,000 prize.
“I was super nervous, but the staff, I gotta say, they prepare you for it,” he said. “There are practice games and they run you through it so you’re not doing it for the first time when you’re on the air. The other players are very supportive, too. We were having a lot of fun with it.”
Hom said that prior to playing, the contestants do not meet Alex Trebek, who has hosted the show since 1984. They see him for the first time when he arrives on stage at the beginning of the game. Nevertheless, Hom said, Trebek took questions from the audience during commercial breaks and stayed after the show’s end to chat with contestants and audience members.
“The guy’s a trooper,” Hom said.
Hom’s journey to Culver City, California, where Jeopardy! is taped, began with an online test. A few months later, he was asked to participate in a simulated try-out game at a San Francisco hotel. Eighteen months later, he got the call informing him he’d been chosen as a contestant.
Naturally, he boned up on all sorts of trivia and factoids before competing, but he said the eventual questions did not match his efforts. Still, his appearance, in addition to the $1,000 prize, enabled him to mention his alma mater during player introductions.
Hom told Trebek he got more than a biology degree out of Creighton. He met his wife at the University, too — Marilyn McEntee, BSPha’92, who currently works as a pharmacist.
Despite his national television exposure, Hom said he has remained grounded and is focusing on the truly important stuff.
“I’m pretty excited about the basketball season at Creighton,” he said. “I’m looking forward to a high seed in the NCAA tournament.”