Iowa State alumnus recently appeared on an episode of ‘Jeopardy!’


Alan Johnson, who graduated from Iowa State University in 2006, recently appeared on “Jeopardy!.”

Margaret Troup

Editor’s note: This article originally stated that Alan Johnson recently appeared on “Jeopardy!” when the episode had not yet aired. The Daily regrets this error.

Alan Johnson, an Iowa State alumnus, will appear on the popular trivia show “Jeopardy!.”

“There’s an online test you take as the first step in the contestant selection process,” Johnson said. “I’ve taken it a bunch of times over the years and last year was the first time I even made it to the second step. I was fortunate enough to go all the way through to appearing [on ‘Jeopardy!’].”

Johnson elaborated more on how small the odds of actually participating in “Jeopardy!” are.

“You take a number of tests,” Johnson said. “I think they said about 250,000 people took the tests last year. Supposedly, if you score above a certain cutoff, you go into a lottery. Even if you got a perfect score, that wouldn’t guarantee you’re selected.”

Johnson graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s in computer engineering and a minor in economics. He said his education at Iowa State helped him achieve his goal of becoming a “Jeopardy!” contestant.

“One of the aspects of Iowa State that I appreciated was that I had a lot of time to design my own education in a lot of ways,” Johnson said. “I did a lot of research with different professors on campus and I think that gave me a really broad basis of knowledge that I’m sure set me up from a lot of the things I’ve done since. Other schools that I might’ve chosen to go to might’ve not provided me with the same space to explore.”

In terms of filming the actual episode Johnson appeared in, he explained what it was like finally making it to the stage set.

“I tried to read books that previous contestants had published to try to demystify it as much as possible,” Johnson said. “As much as I wanted to be in the moment and enjoy it, I didn’t want it to feel super new. The actual experience matched the research that I had done, and I didn’t feel out of place.”

Participating in “Jeopardy!” more than once is apparently even more difficult than getting on the show in the first place.

“I’m pretty sure that once you compete, you can’t compete anymore,” Johnson said. “Whether you lose your first match or go on a run, unless you qualify for a Tournament of Champions, then that’s your whole ‘Jeopardy!’ career.”

Past seasons of “Jeopardy!” can be watched on Netflix while more recent episodes can be streamed on “Jeopardy!”‘s official website.