The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Campanile

The Campanile

The Campanile

Math teacher Daniel Nguyen makes fifth appearance on Jeopardy! tournament


After winning the first round of the Jeopardy! Champions Wildcard tournament on Oct. 7, Paly math teacher Daniel Nguyen was finally knocked out by Lucy Ricketts, a book designer and freelance illustrator, in the semifinals round on Oct. 17.

This is the second time Nguyen has been featured on the game show after winning two rounds last spring before losing to Ryan Long, a rideshare driver from Pennsylvania. Jeopardy!, a national trivia-centered game show, is notorious for its unique reversed question and answer format and its catchy trivia music.
The Champions Wildcard Tournament is meant to provide a chance for Jeopardy! contestants who won between one and three games to compete against each other.
The winner of the Champions Wildcard Tournament moves on to the Tournament of Champions, the highest level of Jeopardy!, with a grand prize of $250,000.
Because Nguyen lost a round in the Champions Wildcard tournament, he will not qualify for the Tournament of Champions.
Nguyen said he was surprised he was called back onto the show in the first place.
“It was a call out of the blue, and it was a very nice treat to go back,” he said.
Nguyen’s second experience on Jeopardy! contrasted sharply with his first which happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During my first time there were a lot more COVID-19 protocols, and so I didn’t get the usual fun contestant experience,” Nguyen said. “We couldn’t even talk to each other. This time around, (they were) all removed, so we could sit in the greenroom where we could watch other people playing and cheer for them.”
The first time he was called in for Jeopardy!, Nguyen said he was watching for the phone call.
“I try not to pick up or even listen to voicemails of numbers I don’t recognize, except the first time I knew that if I saw a number that had a 310 area code, it might be Jeopardy!,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen said he was suspicious when he received the second phone call.
“They didn’t have a 310 area code,” Nguyen said. “It was a 424. I just happened to get lucky and check.”
Nguyen said he studied diligently before appearing on the show and found many different ways to learn as much as he could.
“I watched a lot of shows – probably dozens of shows,” Nguyen said. “I did it under conditions that were as close as possible to how it would be in the studio. So I stood a certain distance away from the computer to emulate how a clue would look in the studio.”
Nguyen said he also made his own buzzer to replicate the game show’s conditions.
“I didn’t have a real buzzer, so I used a toilet paper holder,” Nguyen said. “There’s a spring in there, so I used that to emulate using a buzzer.”
Despite all this preparation, Nguyen said future rounds will be difficult.
“All of the contestants in this tournament are very knowledgeable and fast on the buzzer, so anything can happen,” Nguyen said.
Though Nguyen lost the semifinals round, he said he truly enjoyed his experience on the show.
“I think it was pretty fun when it happened,” Nguyen said.
And Nguyen said he is not hopeful that he will be offered another chance to compete on the show.
“A third time? I don’t even want to consider the possibility,” Nguyen said. “Otherwise, I’ll just be clinging on to false hope.”

View Comments (1)
Donate to The Campanile
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Palo Alto High School's newspaper

About the Contributor
Gavin Lin
Gavin Lin, Assistant Managing Editor
Donate to The Campanile
Our Goal

Comments (1)

All The Campanile Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • H

    Howden Saggers LawyersNov 3, 2023 at 1:19 am

    Go, Daniel Nguyen! A math teacher rocking Jeopardy for the fifth time – that’s seriously impressive. Your students must be so proud, and you’re an inspiration to all of us. Keep those correct answers coming, and good luck on your Jeopardy journey!