Southern Adventist Student Appears on Jeopardy! College Championship
Biology major is first to represent school on national TV quiz show
BY LORI FUTCHER, Southern Adventist University
By the age of 7, Hans von Walter, a junior biochemistry major, decided he wanted to be a contestant on Jeopardy!, the number one rated quiz show in television syndication. On September 23 during von Walter’s biochemistry lab, he was informed that his dream would now become a reality.
“When my phone lit up during lab, I knew the number was from California,” says von Walter. “I was 99 percent sure I had been selected as a Jeopardy! contestant. I was in complete and utter shock.”
Von Walter is the first student to represent the university on the popular game show.
“The fact that I’m representing Southern puts a lot of pressure on me,” says von Walter, “but it also gives me a sense of pride in knowing that I am well prepared.”
“WHAT IS JEOPARDY?”–Hans von Walter, right, a student at Southern Adventist University, poses with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek onstage in Culver City, California. Von Walter is the first Southern Adventist student to compete on the show’s College Championship. [Photo: Jeopardy Productions Inc.]
In preparation for the competition, von Walter watched Jeopardy! every evening while running in the Hulsey Wellness Center. He also took online Jeopardy! quizzes and replied to random trivia text messages sent by friends.
Yet, von Walter’s preparation for the Jeopardy! competition began long before he was selected as a contestant. During his eighth grade year, Hans represented his home state of Florida in the Geography Bee by making it all the way to Nationals where Alex Trebek–longtime host of Jeopardy!--hosted that competition.
While he successfully participated in other trivia game challenges throughout his high school years, von Walter’s involvement in Southern’s annual college bowl competition also played an important role in his journey to the Jeopardy! stage. Von Walter’s team won the college bowl competition his freshman year and came in second place his sophomore year.
“I really appreciate that Southern provides the college bowl competitions,” says von Walter. “The competitions have been the major factor in keeping my interest in trivia alive.”
On being the first student from his university to compete in the College Championship, he said, “It feels great. … To have the opportunity to put my college in the national spotlight is truly an honor.”
The Jeopardy! episode featuring Hans was to air on Tuesday, November 9, during the show’s College Championship weeks. Information on his outcome was not available in time for Adventist Review’s press deadline.
Jeopardy!, the winner of 28 Emmy awards since its debut in 1984, was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most awards won by a TV Game Show. The series has nearly 9 million daily viewers, producers say.
-- with additional information from Sony Pictures Television