Local teen makes it big on Jeopardy!

The category: Jeopardy! Kids Week

The clue: This young Richland Library volunteer hopes to one day work with Ellen DeGeneres on a “Finding Nemo” sequel.

The answer: Who is Josiah Washington?

Josiah bested his two competitors throughout the half-hour show and was the only one to come up with the Final Jeopardy Question.

The clue - Like NM & MN, the postal abbreviations of these 2 states are the reverse of one another

The winning question: What is Alabama & Louisiana?

How much did Josiah win Thursday night?

The answer: $22,200


The 13-year-old Columbia resident is the second person who has worked with Richland Library to compete on Jeopardy!. Josiah’s show will air just a few weeks after Florence-native Ben Ingram, who now lives in South Carolina, became the ninth top earner on the game show.

Josiah took an initial test and competed in auditions before getting called up to appear on the show. In February, he headed to Los Angeles.

During the filming of the show, Josiah did not enjoy wearing makeup — but he did like playing with the buzzer.

He said all of the contestants had to stand on risers so they would appear to be the same height, and the room was kept at a temperature in the mid 60s.

“They have to keep it cold so the contestants won’t sweat on stage,” Josiah said.

His parents, Phillip and Renee Washington, and his little sister Micah sat in the audience. His mom said the experience was emotional and she had to pinch herself to be sure it was real.

Josiah has not been allowed to talk about details of the show, adding it has been tough to keep the secret for almost six months.

Only his parents and sister know the outcome. He can’t even tell his grandparents or close friends.

Josiah can’t talk about how much money he won yet, and he won’t get the money until 120 days after the show airs. But he plans on giving 10 percent to his church, spending 10 percent (the most he said his dad will let him) and putting the rest toward college.

He eventually wants to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and major in engineering, and then go to the Harvard Business School for a master’s degree in business administration.

His career goal, at this point in life: To own a roller coaster company.

Josiah is home schooled and he started reading when he was around 2 years old. Every night the family would read together alternating who read each page, his mother said.

She encouraged her children to read kids’ nonfiction books about animals or history, and that’s how Josiah and Micah know so much trivia, she said.

Josiah has been volunteering at the Richland Library for four years, helping to organize carts and clean the children’s room.

“Five minutes after I put the toys up, the children come and destroy all of our hard work,” Josiah said.

“He’s volunteered here for so long he’s like an extended member of the library family,” said Laura Morris, Richland Library’s communications coordinator.

A viewing party for the Jeopardy! show will be held in the library’s new Teen Center at 7 tonight. The show airs at 7:30 p.m. on WOLO-TV

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