Carsen Smith was a contestant on this year’s Jeopardy! College Championship this past Thursday, competing alongside other college students for 100,000 dollars.
Each year, Jeopardy! holds the tournament and allows 15 students to compete on the show, filming 5 episodes with 3 students each, with the top scorers advancing into later rounds. The episodes from this season air Apr. 9-20.
Smith, a biological sciences, Russian studies and Cinema & Media Arts major in the School of Arts & Sciences, learned about the opportunity to tryout for the show online from another Vanderbilt student last year.
“I looked over his shoulder and fed him some answers and realized I actually knew a lot of the trivia,” Smith said. “He told me that it was his dream to be on the show and that the online test is the way to get on.”
Jeopardy! was not Smith’s first time participating in trivia tournaments, as she served as captain of her high school’s trivia team. After taking the test online in October, she was selected for an in-person audition in Chicago in November. Originally scheduled to be filmed in January, the show’s taping was pushed back until spring break after host Alex Trebek underwent surgery.
On the show, Carsen finished second in her round with an ending total of $2,000, but it is unlikely she will advance to the next round.
After the show aired, Smith experienced an unexpected amount of attention over social media, she said.
“It’s more attention than I ever imagined I’d get. On the night the show aired, I ended up with 900 new Facebook and Instagram requests,” she said. “I feel like Kanye. If Kanye were a silly blonde white girl on one episode of a game show.”
While the comments she’s received range from marriage proposals to accusations of being too “smug” on the show, Smith isn’t taking the online attention too seriously, even noting that the “mean tweets” are her favorite part of the experience.
Another highlight for Smith from her chance to appear on Jeopardy! is the entrance into the world of jeopardy alumni.
“Being a contestant on Jeopardy! is like joining a really exclusive club,” she said. “I’ve already had multiple former contestants reach out to me to grab lunch or coffee. All of us are in a Facebook group together so now I have this awesome network of a few thousand very smart, interesting people who have all had this wild experience.”