June 17, 2014

Midlands Tech professor enjoys ‘Jeopardy!’ success

Winner fails to advance in Tuesday’s round, but won big on Monday

Andrea Prospero West would be a great poker player. On Monday, her voice had no excitement or special inflection when she said she planned to gather with a few friends Monday night to watch her first appearance on "Jeopardy!"

She couldn't tell anyone whether she would win, and how she didn't wasn't clear in her demeanor. But win she did, and Tuesday the English teacher at Midlands Tech was joyfully accepting congratulations.

She didn't win in Tuesday's matchup, however.

West never got much traction in Tuesday's episode and was in third going into the Final Jeopardy round with $4,800. She responded correctly with "What is Quasimodo?" to the answer about a 19th century novel character whose head was between his shoulder blades and one leg was shorter than the other.

The second-place contestant couldn't come up with the correct response, giving West hope. But the leader going into Final Jeopardy, Paige Ormiston, got the question right and finished with $32,200.

West and her husband, Aaron, watched the show Monday with friends at Sulley's Bar & Grill in Columbia, where their group vied for attention with the U.S. team's dramatic World Cup victory over Ghana. The loudest cheers of the night came when John Brooks scored to put the U.S. up 2-1, and when West came from behind in the Final Jeopardy round thanks to boldly wagering $10,000 of her $11,800.

The category was Word Origins and the answer was: "This noun meaning secret plan comes from the Latin to breathe together." All three contestants correctly responded "What is conspiracy?"

But the leader bid only $5,000 of the $13,000 she had built to that point. West earned $21,800 and the right to call herself a "Jeopardy!" champion.

"Even though I filmed it months ago, I really can't believe it," West said.

She was having trouble getting much work done Tuesday, fielding congratulatory phone calls, emails and social media messages. Traditional media outlets in Buffalo, N.Y., Charleston and Columbia claimed the new "Jeopardy!" champion as one of their own. West spent her childhood in Upstate New York, graduated from Summerville High School after her family moved to South Carolina, and came to Columbia to attend the South Carolina Honors College at the University of South Carolina.

She earned an undergraduate degrees in French and German and a master's in linguistics. One other group claimed her on Twitter: Phi Beta Kappa.

As the second-place finisher, West earned another $2,000 to go with the $21,800 she won on Monday, and she'll always be a "Jeopardy!" champion.


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