Jeopardy!‘s latest champion Stephen Clarke is fulfilling a lifelong dream right now. Clarke recently won his second game in a row and he got to reflect on the experience with his local news station in Chesapeake, Virginia. While speaking with 13News Now, Clarke said he’s been a fan of the show since childhood.
“I have really distinct memories of watching with my grandparents whenever I’d go over to their house. It was always a part of their routine,” Clarke said.
Clarke grew up to become a lawyer, but he always remained an avid Jeopardy! viewer and never gave up on becoming a contestant on the TV show. He spent years applying online for the chance to compete. Finally in April this year, he finally got the call.
“I saw my phone and it was this California number. I was like, ‘I’m not going to answer that,'” Clarke said. “Right after, I got a text saying, ‘This is so-and-so from Jeopardy!‘”
Clarke said he did not get much time to study ahead of filming his Jeopardy! appearances. But he did credit his profession for preparing him to operate under pressure. When it comes to going in front of the cameras on Jeopardy!, contestants need strong nerves under the limelight.
“When I go into a courtroom, I have to be confrontational. I have to, sort of, be an advocate. It’s not the same, but it felt similar to being up on the stage. You’re kind of acting the part,” Clarke said.
Close Calls For Clarke in Final Jeopardy
Clarke said he prepared himself for failure ahead of his first game. He knew the chances of winning were slim. Especially against the previous winner Robert Won. Clarke ended up correctly guessing in Final Jeopardy to win his first game by $2.
“I really couldn’t believe it,” Clarke said. “I just had to take a few deep breaths to take it in. But, that was a pretty amazing moment for me.”
Clarke had a close call on his second game. When it came to Final Jeopardy, the clue read “Discovered in 1877, they were named for siblings of the Greek god of love.” Clarke answered incorrectly by writing, “Sagittarious.” Lucky for Clarke, he only wagered $1.
So far, Clarke has racked up nearly $40,000 in winnings. But what does Clarke plan on doing with the money? He said he wants to put it back into what got him to the show in the first place: education. He intends to start a scholarship fund in honor of his mother who passed away 10 years ago.
“She loved ‘Jeopardy!,’ and she would’ve loved this experience,” Clarke said. “Education was really huge for her. She was the first in her family to go to college.”
Clarke encourages anyone watching his run on the show who feels like they can do it to chase their dream just as he did. He said, “keep trying and persevere.”