Ottawa's Jeopardy! champ relishes the chance to relive his glory
Grant McSheffrey has racked up three wins on the game show this week.
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Grant McSheffrey forgot his work ID Thursday morning, so he went to the security desk at BlackBerry’s QNX branch in Kanata.
"I went up to the desk to get the badge, and the guard said, 'You were the guy who was on Jeopardy, right?"
McSheffrey has indeed become a celebrity of sorts after stringing together three wins on the long-running quiz show this week. Tuesday’s episode saw him take home $30,000 US in a cliffhanger win — a sum he had increased to $69,201 by the end of Thursday's show.
And that might not be all: Jeopardy champions keep going until they lose.
His unbridled enthusiasm has also attracted support on Twitter.
A voracious reader who enjoys trivia games with friends, McSheffrey had dreamed about being on the show. He applied three times through the show’s online test, which poses 50 questions with 15-second time limits.
He was selected for a December 2016 taping and paid his own way to Los Angeles. The show produces five episodes, a whole week’s worth, in a single day. A contestant who goes on a winning streak and plays in all five would contend with early-morning paperwork and preparation before playing three consecutive games before lunch — with very brief change-room breaks in between — and then two more in the afternoon.
McSheffrey said that first taping was a high-pressure day (“I couldn't find a nice black belt I brought, so I had this one that was falling apart") and that he remembers being glad not to be facing the audience.
"All I could think was 'I don't know if my legs are going to stop shaking. Can people see that I'm shaking?' I was just so nervous," he said. “Alex Trebek first comes out and wow — just wow.
The intensity of the ordeal and the time that’s passed since have caused him to forget most of what happened — which makes it fun for him to re-live now that his episodes are airing.
McSheffrey’s high-energy on-camera presence and retro look prompted Twitter users to post memes, which a friend showed him.
“I thought it was just hilarious,” he said. “I couldn't believe having complete strangers that were that interested in it. It's been pretty neat that people I see who I don't know coming up to me saying, 'Congratulations!'"
McSheffrey can’t say how much he’s taken home from the show, but he does admit to dreaming of an Austrian ski trip with his family.
And there's the matter of the California government, which takes “a pretty hefty chunk for taxes."
He says anyone who dreams of applying should be persistent.
“No. 1 is just try — you never know,” he says. “Just go for it.”