Fresno’s Peter Guekguezian is a first-day “Jeopardy!” champion, with the episode broadcast Friday.
And he’ll be back on Monday’s show, looking to add on to his winnings of $18,401. The episodes were taped in February.
“This has been a lifelong dream,” Guekguezian told The Bee on Friday night. “I’ve been watching ‘Jeopardy!’ pretty much my whole life. I’m pretty sure one of my first words was ‘Jeopardy.’
“To get on the show and win, it’s just really exciting.”
Guekguezian, 30, received his master’s in linguistics from Fresno State in 2011. He graduated from University High in 2004.
In between, he got his bachelor’s from St. John’s College in Maryland.
Guekguezian tried out three times for the show before he finally was selected in January.
A month later, Guekguezian was on “Jeopardy!”
And talking it up with TV host Alex Trebek.
He’s a fascinating person. A kind of guy you’d love to spend a whole day with.
Peter Guekguezian on Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek
“He’s everything you’d think he’d be on TV and more,” Guekguezian said. “Nice guy, very personable. He’s very quick witted and sharp.
“He’s a fascinating person. A kind of guy you’d love to spend a whole day with.”
With only a month’s notice before going on the show, Guekguezian immediately got to studying.
But he didn’t turn to encyclopedias. He bought an almanac, filled with important dates and events as well as random facts. And he used his cell phone to play quiz games.
Guekguezian was given a month’s notice before coming on Jeopardy! But he didn’t get to study much because he has a 2-year-old son and was writing a dissertation while finishing up his Ph.D.
Two time-consuming pursuits, however, got in the way of Guekguezian’s studying:
He has a 2-year-old son, Zekiel. And he was writing a dissertation while finishing up a Ph.D. in linguistics at USC.
“Honestly, I wasn’t able to study much,” Guekguezian said. “But there’s not much you can do.
“If you’re a genius at some field but don’t know anything about entertainment, sports or politics, you won’t do well. You have to be ready for anything and know a variety of things.”
Just to qualify for an in-person tryout, Guekguezian took an online quiz of about 50 questions.
Once he was selected for the tryout, he took a quiz in person and participated in a mock game of “Jeopardy!” for about 10 questions.
The show also conducted a personality interview for each contestant.
“I auditioned three times and I think by the third time, I finally wasn’t that nervous, which I think is why they selected me,” Guekguezian said.
Guekguezian is on orders not to talk about the results of the show or specific questions asked – at least until the episode is broadcast.
Fresno’s Peter Guekguezian, who has a Ph.D. in linguistics, went up against a curriculum development program manager from Atlanta, and a retired teacher from Columbia, Md.
For Friday’s showing, the linguistics specialist of Armenian descent went up against Melanie Glassco, a curriculum development program manager from Atlanta, and Debb Johnson, a retired teacher from Columbia, Md.
Johnson entered as defending champ with a one-day total of $12,700.
By the time Final Jeopardy! came around, the contestants were provided this answer: Scholars think this 1810 piano piece was dedicated to Elisabeth Rockel or Therese Malfatti, a student of the composer.
Guekguezian provided the correct response.
“A lot of the questions, they give you clues,” Guekguezian said. “It’s like a crossword puzzle sometimes. I knew Beethoven was popular around that time.
“And since one of the names provided was Elisabeth, I got the Elise part and wrote: ‘What is Fur Elise?’ Felt pretty good about my question.”
- Monday at 7 p.m.: On KFSN (ABC-30)
- Fresno connection: Fresno’s Peter Guekguezian will try to defend his title after winning $18,400 on Friday’s episode.