It took two years for Jeopardy to make the call to Andrew Haringer, but when they did, he was excited.
Haringer, a 34-year-old humanities teaching fellow at Quest University, decided to take the online exam for the show in 2013, after one of his best friends from high school had been on Jeopardy. He and his friend had competed on the high school trivia team and won first in state for Georgia when his family lived in Atlanta.
He did well on the exam and was invited to audition that same year, but then, nothing happened. Haringer assumed he had not been selected.
In January this year, however, the call finally came. Haringer was invited to compete on the game show.
“I was thrilled,” he recalled this week in an interview with The Squamish Chief.
A voracious reader, Haringer had grown up watching Jeopardy as an after-dinner tradition and competing against his family. Last week, he ended a six-show appearance on Jeopardy that thrilled people at Quest and Squamish, his home of two years, and even elicited congratulatory messages from his Grade 2 and 3 teachers. Haringer won five shows before being defeated May 21. Only one game was a runaway; for the others, he came from a second-place position to win Final Jeopardy. He was told he was the first person in Jeopardy history to win four consecutive games from a second-place position.
Haringer credits his success to betting safely on topics he assumed he would get wrong – such as mascots and cartoon characters – and having background in many of the areas from which questions are drawn, including history, literature, visual arts and music.
Haringer, who earned his doctorate in historical musicology at Columbia University in New York City, has been at Quest University as a teaching fellow for two years, and this fall, he will stay as visiting faculty. He teaches courses in music, literature and world religion at Quest. In his spare time, he plays piano, climbs, hikes and enjoys cooking and old films.
He’s American, originally from Seattle, but was happy to represent Canada and Squamish on the show. “If people mistake me for a Canadian, that’s OK, that means I was polite,” he said.
Despite his wins generating excitement in Squamish, he said, “no one has stopped me on the street.” He’s modest and realizes his 15 minutes of fame is fleeting.
“Things move on. It was a fun experience. It was a flash-in-the-pan experience.”
Haringer said he keeps his success in perspective."I'm proud of what I did, but it's a game show. I'm not curing cancer here."
Jeopardy tapes two weeks worth of shows over two days, five shows a day, and Haringer was on two of the shows at the end of the cycle, then returned to LA later to tape the rest. He won three shows in a row (changing shirts and ties on the advice of the show staff) then, after lunch, faltered for his fourth show that day. He said it’s common for competitors on a winning streak to lose after lunch; on TV, that’s on Thursday.
As his student days were recent and he still drives an old car, Haringer was thrilled with his winnings of US$98,000, even though about half will be swallowed by taxes. He plans to invest the remainder.
On the show, he was excited by the figures each time he won. “It’s something to say, in half an hour, I just made half my salary.”
If Haringer qualifies for the Tournament of Champions – which is likely, based on his five wins – he would tape those shows later this year and appear on TV again in 2016. No doubt Squamish will again tune in with interest.