Brandeis student heads to Jeopardy! semifinals

After his first win in the Jeopardy! National College Championships, Joey Kornman '23 will be competing in the upcoming semifinals.

joey kornman poses in front of the jeapordy sign with hostCourtesy of ABC Network/Casey Durkin

Mayim Bialik will be hosting the championship event.

Out of more than 26,000 applicants, Joey Kornman ‘23 was among the lucky few selected to compete in this year’s Jeopardy! National College Championship.

Kornman, a double major in classical studies and economics with two minors in politics and the history of ideas, grew up playing knowledge-based games with his family. Game nights weren’t complete without a competitive round of trivia with his parents and siblings.

The family was so competitive that other family-friends refused to play against them as a team, fearful of their skills. “Only one member of my family was allowed to play at a time,” said Kornman. “Our friends knew if we all played together we would win.”

Kornman selected his unique combination of majors at Brandeis because of his passion for learning. As a classical studies major, he enjoys studying classical Roman and Greek culture — right now, he is studying abroad in Athens. He also loves economics and finds his two minors give him a well-rounded background of knowledge.

Kornman quickly found his community of fellow trivia players at Brandeis. He started attending trivia nights throughout the semester at The Stein with his friends. Kornman also discovered the perfect club for him, the campus quiz bowl team.

Quiz bowl teams are formed in high schools and universities throughout the country, competing in tournaments to showcase their knowledge of science, history, literature, the arts and pop culture. It was here that Kornman discovered the Jeopardy! College National Championship.

“The group found out online about the competition,” said Kornman. “I knew it was a long shot, but decided to apply.”

After an intensive series of multiple online applications and interviews, he assumed he didn’t make the cut. While Kornman didn’t know it at the time, he was chosen to compete alongside 35 other students across the country. Months later he received a text from Jeopardy, confirming he was selected to compete.

“I applied online for fun and thought I didn’t make it,” said Kornman. “It wasn’t until I received that text that I realized this could really be happening.”

Kornman discovered he’d be competing in November, but wasn’t allowed to tell anyone before the announcement. “It was the hardest secret to keep,” he said. “I spent my Thanksgiving break flying to California to compete and couldn’t tell anyone.”

Kornman recounts the competition as being a surreal experience. “As I flew to California for the first time in my life I couldn’t believe it was happening,” he said. “Even as I sat in my makeup chair backstage before the show I was in disbelief!”

Kornman proved his trivia knowledge during his first match, held on February 9th. He completed the competition with $17,201 in prize money, advancing him to the semi-finals. “When I saw that classic studies question I was ready,” said Kornman chatting with his fellow contestants as the game completed. “I said I’m going for $2000!”

While Kornman isn’t allowed to share details about the competition, the Brandeis community will be cheering him on as he enters the semi-finals, broadcasting on ABC and available the next day on Hulu.

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