College of Science alumnus wins 'Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions'
November 23, 2011
Roger Craig from Newark, Del., a 1999 College of Science graduate with two bachelor's degrees (one in biological sciences and one in biochemistry), has won the “Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions.” Craig walked away with a prize of $250,000 last week after beating 14 other top “Jeopardy!” champions from recent seasons.
Craig, who recently earned a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Delaware, credits both of his alma maters for helping him to win. “For 'Jeopardy!' the name of the game is breadth, not depth, of knowledge.” said Craig. “I think the main reason both universities helped so much is that they cover just about all spheres of learning in extraordinary depth.”
To help him prepare for the tournament, Craig created a computer program custom-built to study more than 200,000 past "Jeopardy!" questions and answers for patterns. Using statistical processes, Craig was able to group questions by category to figure out which topics were most likely to appear.
“It’s impossible to know everything,” Craig said. “I wanted to determine which categories were most likely to come up and then find out where there were gaps in my knowledge.” Examples of some of the subjects he brushed up on included geography, Oscar-winning films, and Shakespeare.
Craig first appeared on “Jeopardy!” in September 2010, earning $230,000 as a six-day champion. During his original run, he set a new record for the highest one-day total winnings, $77,000, surpassing the $75,000 record set by Ken Jennings in 2004.
Craig admits his life a changed since he first appeared on the show.
“Strangers now recognize me,” he said. “especially when my games are airing.”
While a student at Virginia Tech, Craig was a disc jockey for the university's student-run radio station, WUVT, and a member of the Academic Competition Organization.
“Jeopardy!,” the winner of 29 Emmy Awards, including the 2011 Emmy for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Program, was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most awards won by a TV game show. The series is the top-rated quiz show in syndication with nearly 9 million daily viewers.