UNL student makes 'Jeopardy!' college tourney

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek and UNL's Timothy Relihan.
Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek and UNL's Timothy Relihan.

A UNL senior majoring in international studies and history will soon get his 15 minutes of fame - or rather, make that 30 minutes.

Timothy Relihan is scheduled to compete in the two-week college championship tournament of "Jeopardy!" airing nationally Nov. 8-19 (check local listings, programming dates are subject to change).

The Stromsburg native landed a spot on the popular game show after performing well on an online test and an audition that included a written test, a mock game and an interview. While more than 10,000 people took the online test, just 15 students were selected to be on the show, he said.

Relihan learned in September that he'd made the cut in what was his third attempt to become a contestant on the show he grew up watching.

"I was just kind of in shock for a while," he said of getting the news. "My head was really spinning. I didn't know what to think."

To prepare, Relihan studied an online archive of "Jeopardy!" questions and answers and played other online quiz games. He also spent some extra time on one subject familiar to him: history. U.S. presidents and the Constitution, for example, are topics that come up frequently on the show and he wanted to be ready, he said.

"I decided I wasn't going to try to master modern literature or poetry or opera or other things I just don't know anything about," he said. "I just wouldn't answer those questions."

The grand prize in the tournament is $100,000. Second place will receive a minimum of $50,000 and third place a minimum of $25,000. Semifinalists receive $10,000 and players eliminated in the first week receive $5,000.

- Jean Ortiz Jones, University Communications