Austin Rogers ’00 did not enter the Jeopardy! studio expecting to become an overnight sensation—let alone leave Los Angeles with $411,000 in prize money, the fifth-longest winning streak in the show’s history, and interviews booked with Good Morning America and The New York Times. (He also returned to the Jeopardy! stage in November for the Tournament of Champions and finished third, netting an additional $50,000 in prize money.)

But the Manhattan bartender’s propensity to bet big during the Daily Double and incomparable miming during introductions won him fans in the studio audience, the production team, and across the country. Now he’s hoping to parlay his 15 minutes of fame into lucrative business opportunities.

According to Rogers, all three competitors know roughly 85 percent of the same material, so it’s stage presence and buzzer speed that make contestants stand out. “I’ve been on stage, I’ve been under the lights—I viewed that as a distinct advantage over my competitors,” says Rogers, a history major who played Ultimate Frisbee and worked nearly full time at Starbucks while a student at Mac. “I’ve done auctions, I’ve done stand-up comedy, I host trivia nights at bars. I’m the center of attention at parties. I didn’t feel like I was on stage—I felt like I was in my living room, just shouting the answers at the TV.”

—Excerpted from The Mac Weekly (Oct. 20, 2017)

February 2 2018

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