By Diana Nollen/ SourceMedia
Even when he loses, he wins.
Iowa City native Paul Nelson missed today’s (11/21/12) Final Jeopardy question, but so did his opponents. His conservative wager of $1,000 kept him on top of the earnings heap as the others fell lower with their higher wagers in the category, “Opera.”
No one came up with the right question to this answer: “In 1900, the first La Scala performance of this opera was conducted by the man whose last name begins with the opera’s title.” Nelson guessed “Don Giovanni.” But the right question was, “What is ‘Tosca,’ ” since the conductor was Arturo Toscanini.
Only $1,100 separated all three contestants going into the final round, after one of the toughest matches I’ve seen on the popular answer-and-question television game show.
Nelson, 23, a legislative correspondent in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Washington office, was back to defend his crown after a two-week hiatus while the show ran its annual Teachers’ Tournament.
He jumped out to his usual early lead, only to be eclipsed by Dan Sims, a case manager from Little Rock, and Morgan Kruse, a health economic consultant from Irvine, Calif. But with several missed questions by the opponents, Nelson was in the lead with $800 at the first commercial break, while the others sat at $0.
Nelson then won the first Daily Double, with a correct haiku answer in the Poetry category, to up his total to $4,500. He ended the round with $5,300, while Kruse stayed at $0 and Sims sat at $400. They didn’t even get to the Anagrams category — a phenomenon I’ve never seen happen. Granted, I only watch the show sporadically, but that speaks volumes for the way all three contestants struggled through the first round.
Sims shot ahead in Double Jeopardy with several correct answers about generals. Kruse jumped ahead of Nelson, too, but then fell back with a miss in the Planetary Matters category. Nelson lost $2,000 with a miss on a Daily Double answer about what a tonsorial practitioner does. (I felt very good for knowing the answer: cuts hair.)
When the dust settled on that round, Kruse had $4,400, Nelson had $4,500 and Sims led with $5,500, before they all surrendered their wagers in Final Jeopardy.
Nelson’s winning payoff of $3,500 brought his four-day earnings to $48,900.
I’m not sure I’ll be able to follow the action over the holiday weekend. It depends on figuring out when “Jeopardy!” airs in southeast Iowa (I think it’s in the afternoon), then being near a TV. I may have to wait until Monday, Nov. 26, to see if he’s still in the lineup.
“Jeopardy!” airs at 11:30 a.m. weekdays on KWWL Channel 7 in the Corridor.
If you catch the show Thursday or Friday, let me know how he fares.