A Jeopardy! champion


Submitted photo “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek (left) with Darren Harris-Fain (right).

By Joseph Pratt

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All over the country, 25 million people a week shout at their TVs the answers to questions Alex Trebek reveals on the evening showings of “Jeopardy!”. Portsmouth native and former Shawnee State University (SSU) professor Darren Harris-Fain recently appeared on this show, which has been named “America’s Favorite Quiz Show” by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Not only did he appear on the Wednesday, June 10 episode, but he won $22,000 and returned to perform again on Thursday, June 11. The results of the Thursday game had not aired prior to press time.

“It was an amazing experience. I was just happy to have been able to appear on the show, since I love ‘Jeopardy!’ and have been trying to get on for years,” Harris-Fain said. “I was happy just to do it, but to win a substantial amount of money in the process was the icing on the cake.”

Harris -Fain said that the episodes he appeared on were tapped in March and the show tapes up to five episodes a day.

“I was very excited to win,” he said. “I was able to play my game and I was given a short lunch break in which I was able to compose myself and get ready for the next game. It was definitely different going into the second game, because I proved I could win, which gave me confidence going into it.”

Harris-Fain said he has been trying to get on the show for years, and was ecstatic to finally receive a call stating he was granted a seat in a show. He claimed that he has taken and passed the test on many occasions and even made trips to audition for the show, but was never asked to join for a legitimate tapped show.

“They only host 400 people a year, so even if you do well on their tests and audition, it doesn’t mean you will be asked to join the show,” Harris-Fain explained. “I guess I must have done something right in my last audition that tipped them over to give me a call.”

Harris-Fain said he had auditioned a total of four times before appearing. In order to prepare for the show, Harris-Fain explained that he researched comments made by past contestants and asked many questions from a colleague who appeared on the show.

“This is something I’ve wanted for years and it finally came true,” Harris-Fain said. “I couldn’t be happier with the consequences.”

The East High School graduate initially left Scioto County to pursue higher education, to only return after a career in publishing. He then taught at Shawnee State University for 15 years, where he was also the chair of the SSU English Department. The scholar then left Shawnee to teach at Auburn University at Montgomery, in Prattville, Alabama, where he has been for four years and currently remains.

“My time at Shawnee was very rewarding. I grew up in Scioto County and it was nice to come back home after earning my degrees and working in publishing,” Harris-Fain said. “I had a lot of really great colleagues and students at Shawnee and I just really enjoyed it.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPrat03.

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