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Reflecting On Penn State’s Jeopardy! History

Legendary “Jeopardy!” host and television personality Alex Trebek died at 80 years old Sunday.

Trebek announced in March that he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. While the cause of death is not known at this time, the show’s official Twitter account said he died surrounded by friends and family.

As we mourn Trebek’s death, we decided to take a look at Penn State’s rich history of contestants and answers from the show’s rich history.

Most recently, Kylie Weaver represented Penn State in the 2020 Jeopardy! College Championship. Weaver, who graduated last spring, made it to the quarterfinals and won $5,000. She studied in the Schreyer Honors College and was a member of the university’s ROTC program.

In April 2019, Penn State professor Ariana Mikulski participated in the trivia show and won $7,100. Mikulski is an associate teaching professor of Spanish and State College resident.

In 2018, Rebecca Zoshak appeared three times on Jeopardy!. Zoshak is a language specialist at Penn State and a one-time champion.

Anna Han represented Penn State University during the 2007 Jeopardy College Championship, making it to the quarterfinals. She graduated from Penn State in 2010 and was a member of the Schreyer Honors College.

The most successful Penn Stater to appear on Jeopardy! is Sean Ryan. Ryan appeared on the show seven times in 2003, winning $123,797 in total. He reappeared on the show in 2004 and again in 2005 for the show’s “Ultimate Tournament of Champions.” Ryan graduated from Penn State in 2004 with a degree in history.

Penn State and Alex Trebek go way back. Last year, a review of Jeopardy! archives showed that the program had directly asked about Penn State 23 times, Joe Paterno 16 times, the Nittany Lions 13 times, and Beaver Stadium twice. Below are some of our favorites:

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for the ice cream short course at this school, home of the Nittany Lions.”

Last year, Penn State was the answer to a $400 clue in the category “Unique College Courses.” The clue referred to the Berkey Creamery’s famous ice-cream-making course that the founders of Ben and Jerry’s are known to have completed.

“AKA Happy Valley, this valley is where Penn State sits; its athletic teams’ name provides a hint.”

In January, another Penn State question was featured on the show. The $400 clue in the category “Valleys” was “Nittany Valley.”

Other Penn State features on the show include:

  • “Its Nittany Lions roar with approval.”
  • “Here’s a whiteout at Beaver Stadium, also known as Happy Valley, the home of this Keystone University.”
  • “This university’s college of medicine is located at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.”

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About the Author

Charles Reinert

Charles Reinert is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. He's from Norristown, PA and enjoys a good slice of pepperoni pizza and a brisk fall afternoon. He can be found either yelling at the Eagles through the TV during football season or playing his guitar. If you have any questions for him or want to challenge him to a 1v1 on the basketball court, you can follow him on Twitter @charles_rein10 or email him at [email protected]


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