‘Jeopardy!’ Professors Tournament First Finalist Talks Best Part of Competition So Far

by Madison Miller

Starting on December 6, 15 different professors from all around the country gathered to put their knowledge to the test on the “Jeopardy!” stage.

Now, we’re getting down to the final stages of the first-ever Professors Tournament hosted by Mayim Bialik. The final day of the competition is Friday, December 17.

Sam Buttrey and the ‘Jeopardy!’ Professors Tournament

The “Jeopardy!” Instagram page highlighted one of the final contestants and their experience on the show so far. Sam Buttrey is a Professor of Operations Research at the Naval Postgraduate School located in Monterey, California.

He is the very first finalist so far on the Professors Tournament, which means he may be the one to walk away with that $100,000 cash prize and a spot in the infamous Tournament of Champions. Given the number of stellar contestants this season, that Tournament of Champions is going to be historical.

As for Sam Buttrey, he said his favorite part of being on the show is “hanging out with the other professors.” He also added, “we’re all in this together and mutually supportive, and it really has been a lot of fun!”

Fans of the show seemed to have one collective thought when it came to Sam Buttrey, however. That is, he’s got a striking resemblance to comedic actor Steve Martin. “I thought this was Steve Martin hosting. Omg,” wrote one person.

Buttrey did a little bit of practicing before he ended up on the “Jeopardy!” stage, as well.

“I practiced by standing up — I wanted to make sure I played standing up–buzzing in on the toilet paper roll and then just reading all the old questions. There is a website that fans have put together with 400,000 old Jeopardy! questions. Now they don’t reuse questions but reading the old questions gives you a feel for what things they are going to emphasize,” Buttrey said to KSBW.

We will continue to find out the last of the finalists during the semifinal rounds. Alisa Hove, a Botany Professor at Warren Wilson College, Marti Canipe, an Elementary Education Professor at Northern Arizona University, and Hester Blum, an English Professor at Penn State University are going to appear on the show today.

Marti Canipe and Professors Tournament

Similar to many of the other professors, semifinalist Marti Canipe had a big support group from her college back home. The college was even planning a small watch party to support Canipe.

As for the “Jeopardy!” contestant, she’s eager to finally have people watch the tournament that she filmed all the way back in October.

“I’m super excited for other people to get to watch, and for people to know what happens so I don’t have to keep that secret anymore,” Canipe said to AZ Central.

As for preparation, she was shocked to learn that she was selected to be on the show. Once she knew, she did a long month of training after finding out in September. Although she believes her skills match the show’s qualifications, Canipe still wanted to be prepared.