NU alum surprises himself with two-day ‘Jeopardy!’ streak


Source: Brandon Brooks

Brandon Brooks (Weinberg ‘04) poses with ‘Jeopardy!’ host Alex Trebek. Brooks competed for three days, completing two come-from-behind victories.

Gabby Birenbaum, Reporter

Brandon Brooks (Weinberg ‘04) didn’t expect to win.

After a come-from-behind victory on the popular quiz show “Jeopardy!” on a Jan. 5 episode, Brooks, the defending champion, went into Final Jeopardy on the Jan. 8 episode in second place. Dave Daniel, one of his competitors, had a $1,200 lead.

Yet, he decided to wager 93 percent of his total upon seeing the Final Jeopardy category: U.S. Presidents. As a former political science major at Northwestern, Brooks felt confident he could get the question right.

His bold move paid off — Brooks finished with the correct answer, the victory and a two-day total of $27,401.

“It was very surprising,” Brooks told The Daily. “I honestly never expected to win anything. I expected to just go on the show and do my best, and I was extremely shocked when I won.”

Brooks — who lost on his third day competing — said he loved his time on the show. Absorbing the atmosphere and being on stage was a “crazy” experience, he said.

A human resources manager in Chicago, Brooks gave NU a shoutout during his second appearance. Donning a purple collared shirt and sweater, he cited NU’s colors as one of the inspirations for his outfit.

Since college, Brooks said he possessed a passion for shows such as “Jeopardy!.”

“I’ve always loved game shows, and that is one of the most respected game shows to go on,” Brooks said. “It was all about the pursuit for me.”

Brooks is no stranger to game shows. While at NU, he auditioned for “Hollywood Squares,” when the show’s recruiters came to campus, and competed on the show as a sophomore in 2002. Brooks went to Los Angeles, competed against other college students in an episode hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and ultimately won the tournament.

He credits Northwestern with more than just enabling his first game show opportunity. Brooks said success on “Jeopardy!” is determined by how much information one picks up on and remembers, and learning a lot while in college — particularly in political science — helped him on the show.

Brooks said he remembers his college experience as fun and rewarding. He participated in Associated Student Government as a junior and senior and was a member of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. As a student, Brooks focused on African-American politics in the 20th century.

Political science Prof. Reuel Rogers was one of Brooks’ favorite professors at NU, Brooks said. Rogers said he remembers Brooks as an engaged and diligent student, and found his “Jeopardy!” success to be characteristic.

“I wasn’t surprised at all,” Rogers told The Daily. “He wasn’t shy about jumping into the fray and articulating his point of view.”

Brooks was seemingly the only one shocked by his victories. He said he didn’t expect to win either time because he went into Final Jeopardy trailing.

Even famed “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek joked about Brooks’ astonishment on the show.

“The person who was most surprised to see Brandon win the game,” Trebek said during Brooks’ second appearance, “was Brandon himself.”

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