Return to “JEOPARDY!”

This entry is part 12 of 20 in the series Spring - 2014

Return to “JEOPARDY!”

By Kate Jeracki

When Russ Schumacher (M.S. ’03, Ph.D. ’08) isn’t studying intense weather events, he hangs out with Alex Trebek. The assistant professor of Atmospheric Science makes his fourth appearance on Jeopardy! on April 2, playing for a chance at more big bucks.

And depending on the outcome of this Battle of the Decades show, Schumacher may be headed for a fifth. (He can’t say how the January taping came out before it airs.) He’s representing the 2000s, and could compete against champs from the 1980s and ’90s, with the ultimate prize of $1 million.

“I was a grad student here at CSU the first time I was on in 2003,” he said. “It was two weeks before I was defending my master’s thesis. That time I won $64,800 in four games. Then they asked me back for the Tournament of Champions in 2004 – while Ken Jennings was still on his run, so I didn’t have to play him.”

That’s when Schumacher, by then a Ph.D. candidate, won $250,000 in four days. Atmospheric Sciences relocated to C.B.& Potts each day to watch him play.

What did Schumacher do with his winnings 10 years ago?

“I bought my then-girlfriend an engagement ring, and we had a bit more elaborate wedding than we would have had otherwise,” he recalled.  “We also made a down payment on a house and did some traveling, and saved some, too.” They’ve now been married 9 years.

Like all contestants, Schumacher also remembers the question he missed in Final Jeopardy! back then.

“In the category of Internet Terms, the answer was, ‘It is named in honor of a Monty Python sketch that used the word more than 100 times in 2 ½ minutes,’” he said.
“Colleagues were leaving cans of Spam on my desk for weeks.”

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