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UT student Jaskaran Singh wins 'Jeopardy! National College Championship,' $250K grand prize

Earl Hopkins
Austin 360

After a series of hard-fought intellectual battles against some of the country's brightest college students, University of Texas student Jaskaran Singh was crowned winner of the "Jeopardy! National College Championship" during Tuesday's ABC broadcast. 

Singh, a senior and finance and economics major, claimed the championship title and the grand prize of $250,000 after facing off against Raymond Goslow of Kennesaw State and Liz Feltner of Northeastern University.

Hosted by Mayim Bialik, "Jeopardy! National College Championship" featured 36 contestants representing 36 colleges and universities during the two-week tournament. The show's two-game finale was prerecorded in November.

After months of concealing his victory to friends and family, including his own parents, Singh said he was relieved. 

"I'm just glad it's finally out there so I don't have to keep quiet about anything, because this month was the worst," Singh told the American-Statesman on Wednesday afternoon. "I went about my classes as normal, but when the 'Jeopardy!' people said you have to start telling people and posting about it this day and that day, it was pretty rough."

During the finale, Singh, 22, dominated in early play with a near-$20,000 lead over Goslow at the end of the first game. 

University of Texas student Jaskaran Singh took home the "Jeopardy! National College Championship" trophy during Tuesday's broadcast.

By the end of the second and last game of the finale, the Plano native secured the victory. The Final Jeopardy answer: “An 1873 book title gave us this phrase for the period in the late 1800s of growth & prosperity & also greed & corruption."

The question (supplied by the contestants, as "Jeopardy!" viewers know): "The Gilded Age" by Charles Dudley Warner and Mark Twain.

Singh got it right, but didn't wager anything. He racked up a total of $51,700 to beat Goslow, who rallied from behind late for a $46,999 finish. Feltner finished third with $7,400. Goslow took home a $100,000 tournament prize, and Feltner got a $50,000 reward. 

While Singh seemed composed through most of the tournament, he said his biggest challenge came during the semifinals, when he was down $1,800 after the Double Jeopardy round. His fate came down to a last-minute wager in the Final Jeopardy round, with a clue about Lady Chatterley, a character created by English author D. H. Lawrence. He answered correctly, and the $12,200 wager catapulted him to the finals and the championship title. 

UT President Jay Hartzell on Tuesday tweeted his congratulations to Singh and said the Tower was lighting up orange in Singh's honor.

Singh said his journey to "Jeopardy!" started when his mom had him apply to be on the game show when he was 13. 

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Back then, he didn't make it to the audition stage for the show's Teen Tournament. But Singh said his mom inspired him to continue the quest.

"(My mom) is really happy and my parents are really amazing," he said. "They supported me throughout the whole thing. I was like, 'I did well, but I can't actually tell you guys.' As we watched the episodes they were like, 'Oh my god,' but they really helped me throughout the process."

Singh's interest in trivia started at Plano West Senior High School, where he was on the Quiz Bowl team and won a national championship. He also is competing on the national stage again for UT's Quiz Bowl team in April. 

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"Jeopardy!" host Mayim Bialik congratulates Jaskaran Singh on his championship win.

Singh ​​​said he was thrilled to see the amount of support he received from his Longhorn family, and despite the newfound notoriety, he insists he's still an average guy.

He is finishing his final classes at the university and will prepare for a full-time job at Boston Consulting Group in Dallas once he graduates. Now that he's a quarter of a million dollars richer, Singh said he's looking to buy a car and plane tickets for a trip to Europe this summer. And the champ is sorting through the hundreds of Linkedin requests he's received over the last two weeks.

Still, he made time to soak in the moment. Singh tweeted in the early hours of Wednesday: "no chance i'm going to class tomorrow."