UH Astronomy Alum To Appear On 'Jeopardy!' In Season Opener

Sep 13, 2020

Jeff Rich, a University of Hawaii Manoa graduate, is set to appear tomorrow on "Jeopardy!" when the television game show begins its 37th season in the age of COVID-19.

The university said in a news release that Rich, who received a Ph.D. in astronomy in 2012 and now works at Carnegie Observatories in Los Angeles, is prohibited from revealing details of the taping of the show, but he admitted to having the jitters.

"I was in the first group of contestants for the day so I felt extra nervous right up until the taping started, then everything feels like it happens really quickly! During the prep for the show, they warn you that the taping goes quickly, and they weren't kidding," Rich said.

Rich said it was overwhelming to meet host Alex Trebek. "Alex even complimented my tie when we took our photo together. I'll probably remember that better than anything else about the whole experience," he said.

Trebek has been battling Stage IV pancreatic cancer but said in a "Jeopardy!" news release on the new season that he felt good and excited that the quiz show is the first to be back on the air in the COVID-19 era.

"On a personal level, I’m excited because it gets me out of the house. It gives me something to do on a regular basis, and I was missing that," he said.

Ken Jennings, who long-time fans know as the show's Greatest Of All Time champion, or G.O.A.T, will appear this season as a consulting producer with his own video categories starting Tuesday.

The university said Rich is the second "Jeopardy! contestant from the UH Manoa Institute for Astronomy. In 2001, Mike Nassir, a physics and astronomy instructor, won second place in his Jeopardy! battle.

Rich's appearance is scheduled for 4 p.m. Hawaii time on KGMB.