Answer: Haritha Sudanagunta

    Haritha Sudanagunta, a Thurgood Marshall College junior, is clearly smart, but her hand-eye coordination is not great. “”I had a lot of trouble getting in on that buzzer!”” Sudanagunta said.

    Sudanagunta spent the weekend of April 21 and 22 taping episodes of “”College Jeopardy,”” which she described as being full of new friends and experiences.

    After spending years watching “”Jeopardy”” with her family, Sudanagunta applied by taking the game show’s 50-question online test. The studio in Los Angeles asked her to come for an audition in October, where she took another written test and a personality test. When she got a call mid-March telling her she was on the show, she was in disbelief.

    “”I had to ask them, ‘Can you please say that again?'”” she said.

    Sudanagunta described the taping as being incredibly fun with little tension. Although Sudanagunta said she’s naturally competitive, she made friends with the other contestants.

    “”I’ve never rooted against people I’ve liked so much!”” Sudanagunta said.

    Although a few contestants admitted to cramming before the show, most (like Sudanagunta) just relied on the knowledge that got them onto the show in the first place.

    “”Everyone knows the answer to the questions; it’s a matter of getting in on the buzzer,”” Sudanagunta said.

    If contestants buzz before a question is fully asked, they get locked out for a short period of time, but if they wait too long, someone gets there before them. Based on Sudanagunta’s experiences, there is an element of chance in how the categories of the questions play out as well. Sudanagunta lucked out when one of her categories turned out to be Disney. Being an avid fan, she ended up answering almost every question in the category.

    Coordinating the buzzer wasn’t Sudanagunta’s only challenge during the competition. Her 21st birthday was the day before the taping and she had to balance celebration and sleep the night before the big day. She injured herself the morning of. Not wanting to be replaced, she suffered through the day and the nerve-racking experience of being on television.

    “”When I get angry I blink a lot. I look like a crazy person on TV!”” she said.

    Although she is sworn to secrecy about the outcome of the show, Sudanagunta did make it past the quarterfinals that aired on April 30. She is in the running to win $100,000. If she does win the money, she has an idea of how it’s going to be spent.

    “”First things first, I need a new car,”” she said.

    Then she’ll pay off tuition, travel to Europe and donate to the San Diego public library where she works. While she doesn’t see game shows in her future, Sudanagunta hopes to go into reasearch or pursue law school.

    “”I’m lucky to be a part of it,”” she said about her experience on “”Jeopardy.””

    To watch Sudanagunta, tune into “”Jeopardy”” for the semifinals, which air on May 8.

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