Toronto law professor wins on Jeopardy!

University of Toronto law students can now say they are taught by a Jeopardy! champion. Professor Anthony Niblett’s Christmas Day appearance on Jeopardy! saw him outsmart his competitors when he pulled into first place after answering the “final jeopardy” clue correctly. Final jeopardy is the game show’s last round.

“It’s a great feeling to be a Jeopardy! champ,” the England-born, Australia-raised professor told Canadian Lawyer 4Students. “I was in shock when I won on Christmas Day. I couldn’t believe it. I got very lucky with the final jeopardy question.”

Niblett was in second place before he correctly gave American author George R.R. Martin as the answer to the last clue. His knowledge won him US$19,601. Niblett returned to the show the following day, finishing in second place.

“On Boxing Day, I was blown away by [winner] Jerry Slowik,” Niblett said. “He was incredible.”

Niblett applied to be on Jeopardy! after a call for contestants during an episode of the show in early 2013. In March, he took the required 50-question online test and was then invited to an audition in Detroit in July.  

“It involved another 50-question test, as well as a short interview and practice game,” he said. “The audition was a lot of fun.”

In September, Niblett got a call to come to Los Angeles to be on the show.

“It was a bit of a shock,” he said, adding he didn’t tell any of his students he would be on the show. “In fact, I didn’t tell many people at all that I was going down to L.A.”

Niblett’s interest in Jeopardy! is new.

“I’ve always enjoyed watching quiz shows and playing trivia, but I’ve only recently started watching Jeopardy!

While living in Australia, there was a local version of the show, but it was cancelled after six months. He started watching Jeopardy! again when he moved to Canada a few years ago.

Niblett says there’s only one way to describe his experience on the show.

“It was amazing — the whole day was great,” he said. “I tried to remain confident and not get nervous, but once the cameras started rolling, it was hard not to be a little nervous — I’d never been on TV before.”

Meeting Jeopardy!’s Canadian host stands out in Niblett’s mind.

“Getting to shake Alex Trebek’s hand was definitely a highlight,” he said.

The professor tried not to have too many expectations before the show, but some aspects of the production still surprised him.

“The set was bigger than I expected [and] the individual screens where the clues are revealed are a little smaller than I hoped,” he said. “The whole experience whizzed by very fast.”

While many of the questions on the show were outside of Niblett’s research interests at the University of Toronto, one area did repeatedly come into play during his experience.  

“Well, all the contestants have to sign a number of contracts,” he said. Niblett focusses on contracts, the economic analysis of law, and judicial decision-making at U of T.

So would he play the game again?

“I would love to. I’m very glad I did it. It was a fantastic experience,” he said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m eligible to go on Jeopardy! again.”

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