2017-05-03 00:00:00.0

Jason Sterlacci: ‘Jeopardy! Opened Up Unexpected Doors’

When we asked 2016 Teachers Tournament winner Jason Sterlacci what he did with his $100,000 winnings, his answer was pragmatic: he’s mostly saving for his son’s college. “I am planning a trip to Las Vegas this summer and I’m going to spend some of it there, but other than that, I haven’t touched it that much,” he said. That’s not to say the past year has been uneventful for Jason; he has been busy with additional opportunities because of his appearance on the show. (No need to worry – he assured us of his loyalty to his school.) It turns out that appearing on Jeopardy! provides unexpected exposure for some contestants. Hear the story straight from Jason.

Jeopardy! Opened Doors

I went in thinking, “I just want to win one game, I just want to say no matter what happened that I had that one win and whatever the results may be beyond that, at least I can say I won a game of Jeopardy!” And for me to pull out the win was really unexpected and at the same time really exciting. It has really opened up my perspective of possibility...

A few weeks after my episodes started to air, a new season of this crazy competitive online trivia league started, and somebody who had been on Jeopardy! a couple years ago offered me a referral to it. It’s by invitation only. … I’ve made of lot of friends through it, other people who I never would have really talked to, who are both on Jeopardy! and not, and now I am being asked to do podcasts with people and all this crazy stuff. So Jeopardy!’s opened a lot of unexpected doors.

There’s a general trivia podcast that a friend of mine wants to start up and co-host; one of my friends is doing a music trivia podcast and they want me to contribute to that. It’s pretty cool to hear people say, “Hey Jason, we think you’d be good for this.”

The J!Effect at School

Kids were really enthusiastic starting middle school having me as a teacher, so I was kind of a celebrity at back-to-school night back in September with parents – both former [students’] parents and the new crop I got that year...

We got a ton of press in local media … the Star-Ledger, the small county newspaper. There was a lot of online positive press on Facebook that I saw. That was really cool.

Kids are constantly asking me about the show, trivia questions. We sometimes talk about Jeopardy! episodes during the beginning of class while they’re copying down their homework. Someone will say, “Hey, what did you think of last night’s final?” … It’s pretty cool because they’ll tell me they didn’t really watch before I was on. So it’s pretty cool that I’m opening up the trivia door for them too.

A Cross-Country Community

I talk to, I’d say, more than half of my fellow contestants regularly. We’ve all kept in touch through Facebook. … It’s like I’ve got a community of people across the country...

There’s a whole Jeopardy! community online that I didn’t even know existed. I’ve been in touch with Buzzy Cohen and Andrew Pau, Lisa Schlitt, Sam Deutsch. We all talk, and it’s pretty cool knowing how nice everybody is. Besides that, as much as it’s competition, hopefully I’m going to have more friendships through the [Tournament of Champions] games.