Oct 062004
Authors: Erin Tracy

Many people think that watching a lot of television makes a

person lazy and unproductive. But for Russ Schumacher, watching

television since he was a child made him rich.

Schumacher, a graduate atmospheric science student, recently won

the $250,000 grand prize on the “Jeopardy! Tournament of


“I always had a dream to be on the show, but I never imagined I

could,” Schumacher said. “I never imagined I could have gotten on

the show, let alone win. It is hard to believe.”

On Friday, Schumacher went to CB & Potts, 1415 W. Elizabeth

St., with friends and family to watch the final game of the

“Tournament of Champions.” No one except his fianc�, Andrea

Saunders, and his members family who attended the April taping of

the show knew he was the winner.

“I honestly don’t have any idea (how I kept it to myself),”

Saunders said. “Theoretically if it did get out he could not have

gotten the money.”

Schumacher said his check for $232,500 arrived in the mail


“FedEx brought it about an hour before we went to watch the

game(show),” Schumacher said. “I immediately put it in the


Because of California state taxes, the check was $17,500 less

than Schumacher originally won. He and Saunders said they plan on

spending some of the money on their wedding and honeymoon.

“A large portion of the money will probably be put away for a

rainy day,” Saunders said. “A portion will definitely go to


Along with the Tournament of Champions money, Schumacher won

$64,800 in the “Jeopardy!” game he played in October 2003 that

qualified him for the Tournament of Champions. He spent most of the

money he won in the qualifier game on a down payment for a new


Todd Ellis, Schumacher’s friend and graduate atmospheric science

student, said he was in disbelief when he found out Schumacher

would be on “Jeopardy!” but when he got over the disbelief he

decided to help his friend practice.

“It started to dawn on us that he could do some real damage on

the show,” Ellis said.

Schumacher said he was lucky to be able to play on “Jeopardy!”

because of the difficult selection process.

“It’s pretty tough, because they just randomly pick names for

call back,” Schumacher said.

He entered his name on the “Jeopardy!” Web site twice before he

was called to take a 50-question test in Denver. He had to answer

at least 35 of the questions correctly in order to move on to the

next round.

“Everyone that gets it right plays in a mock question-and-answer

game,” Schumacher said. “It is sort of like the show.”

Schumacher was called back to play in the October 2003 game

where he won and qualified for the “Tournament of Champions”


He said Ken Jennings, the all-time consecutive “Jeopardy!”

winner, helped knock out some of Schumacher’s competitors, which

helped him advance to the “Tournament of Champions,” where he won

three of the four games he played.

Schumacher said one of the most difficult parts about

“Jeopardy!” was getting used to how the buzzer worked.

He said the buzzer does not work until the host, Alex Trebek,

finishes speaking.

“You have to get the timing down to when they activate the

buzzer,” Schumacher said.

After watching himself on television a few times, Schumacher

said he does not mind it anymore, at least under winning


“It probably would have been worse had I not done well,” he


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