October 11, 2011 Facebook TwitterMore...

Ocracoke’s Charles Temple is back for “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions


Fans will get another chance to cheer on Ocracoke resident Charles Temple in his bid to win the “Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions,” beginning on Nov. 2.

In May, Temple, 39, the high school English teacher at Ocracoke School, won the first ever Teachers Tournament, garnering $100,000 while competing against 15 other teachers from around the nation.

In late September, he traveled to Los Angeles again to test his smarts against 15 other “Jeopardy!” winners.

“It was definitely a step up in competition,” Temple said about this stint and contestants in an interview Monday in his salon-style classroom behind the new gym.

“But we bonded immediately and recognized each other as a tribe, as hard-core nerds,” the convivial Temple said. “You float a grammar joke, and anyone who laughs is a nerd.”

Temple is contractually bound not to reveal the outcome of the tournament, nor could he say how many of the 10 total games he played in.

The entire tournament lasted 36 hours over two nights of filming, he said.

Although he was less nervous this time, having had some experience, he said he doesn’t remember the categories of questions.

“It just goes whizzing by so fast,” he said.

In the “Jeopardy!” world, the Tournament of Champions is the biggest event of the year, he said.  Not all contestants were tournament winners, but they were the high winners in their respective runs at the game.

“Everyone at this tournament wondered how they had gotten there,” Temple noted.  “We all felt we needed some luck to get there and lucky to be in that group. It was a remarkable group of people.”

Among his compatriots were doctors, engineers, scientists, a writer, another teacher, and the college tournament winner.
“After the tournament, we all went to a Korean barbeque restaurant. and one of the contestants was Korean and he ordered everything for us,” Temple said about the group’s camaraderie.

They also have a secret Facebook page where they converse.

Preparation for the event consisted mostly of reading the paper every day to keep up with current events, he said, but not much else as he worked this summer at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Competing well in “Jeopardy!” means being a good generalist of information, he said.

“It’s not the kind of thing you can study for. The people who do the best on it are generalists, such as journalists, lawyers and teachers.  Being a generalist appeals to me.”

In a past interview, Temple said he is particularly interested in history.

Of course, English and literature are among his strong suits, too.

A bit of national notoriety has followed his May victory.

Temple explained that his image appeared in a video spoof of the afternoon game show “The Price is Right,” which was shown on the Jay Leno show.

In the video, available for view on YouTube, the point is that the questions on that game show are not as difficult as those on “Jeopardy!”, and Temple’s photo appears.

“Of all the competitors, I don’t know why they showed me,” he said.

The video pops up if you search for “The Price is Right lyrics Jay Leno.” The name of the video is “The Price is Right Theme Song.” Temple is clearly visible mid-way through it.

As for his winnings from the Teachers Tournament, Temple said he has no big plans for the money yet.

“I bought a Big Green Egg,” he said with a laugh about his fancy new smoker, grill, and oven all in one.

“It was never about the money, getting on the show,” he said. “It was always about getting to play the game.”

Also, when he and his girlfriend, Chrisi Gaskill, went back to Los Angeles, they went to some upscale restaurants.

“We ate well this time,” he said.

Until all the hoopla starts Nov. 2, Temple will concentrate on his job as a teacher of 16 students as they read and discuss Dante’s “Inferno,” Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness, and other classics of English letters, as well as coaching the seven boys on the cross country team.

“I feel like I just got into the school year,” he said about recent events, such as Hurricane Irene and “Jeopardy!” competing with the business of teaching.

“I like to work,” he said. “And the kids like to work, too. They just don’t know it.”

The Tournament of Champions shows runs from Nov. 2-15.  The first round is Wednesday through Friday and Monday and Tuesday -- Nov. 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8. The semi-finals are Wednesday through Friday, Nov. 9-11, and the finals are Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 14 and 15.

Gaffer’s Sports Pub in Ocracoke will have a “Jeopardy!” party, before the show starts at 7:30 p.m.on Nov. 2. – and perhaps other nights if Temple’s winning streak holds.

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