November 3, 2011

UPDATE: Ocracoke’s Charles Temple loses first
round in ‘Jeopardy!’ Tournament of Champions


The Ocracoke community gave a standing ovation to high school English teacher Charles Temple in Gaffer’s Sports Pub Wednesday night after he lost in the first round on the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions.

Temple, 39, is among 15 contestants vying for the grand prize of $250,000.  

In May, he won the first ever “Jeopardy!” Teachers Tournament, garnering $100,000 after competing against 14 other teachers from around the nation.

First-round Tournament of Champion shows will continue to air on the Outer Banks at 7:30 p.m. today (Thursday) through Friday and Monday and Tuesday -- Nov. 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.

Contestants eliminated in the first round receive $5,000, and semi-finalists will get $10,000. In addition to the $250,000 to the first place winner overall, the second-place winner will receive a minimum of $100,000, the third-place winner $50,000.

However, Temple, who toasted the crowd at Gaffer’s after the show, said it’s not over yet.  

He has a “mathematical chance” of getting into the finals as those who don’t win their first round get placed into a “wild card” pool.  

The four contestants in that pool with the top scores will be in the finals. Those four will be revealed after next Tuesday’s game, he said.

Another of the contestants on the Tournament of Champions has an Ocracoke connection. Justin Sausville of Baltimore, Md., is the nephew of Ocracoke resident Jennifer Hamlin.

Temple’s score before the Final Jeopardy question was $400. He bet $115 and had an incorrect answer, ending with $285.

Tom Nissley, an eight-time “Jeopardy!” winner, was winner with earnings of $16,403, beating the third contestant, Jay Rhee, whose final score was $16,401.  Both had the correct answer.

As the game began, Nissley leapt ahead, with Rhee close behind. Temple answered a few questions correctly, each time to cheers from the Ocracoke crowd.
At the end of the first round, he was in last place with $2,000, with Nissley at $8,800 and Rhee at $4,400.
In the second round, Nissley and Rhee continued to progress. Temple missed a few questions, at one point taking his score to zero.

Smiling and laughing continually, Temple was certainly not down about his chance-of-a-lifetime experience on “Jeopardy!”

He had some tough competition playing against Nissley, a writer from Seattle, Wash., and Rhee, an oncologist from Annapolis, Md.

“I splattered into a brick wall called Jay and Tom,” Temple said, laughing, after the game.

“Those questions were hard,” observed Casey Peeler, who was among the folks at Gaffer’s.

 Ironically, Peeler knows another of the contestants in the current tournament, John Krizel.

“You’re still the best,” Ocracoke resident Tom Pahl said to Temple as the two shook hands.
Temple’s run at “Jeopardy!” and participation in the Tournament of Champions is a distinction few people can claim.

Since 1985, out of the thousands of contestants on the show, approximately 300 have competed in the TOC, with nearly $5.4 million in cash prizes awarded to the participating players.

“So, I’m in good company,” Temple said.

That company is a “crazy smart collection of nerds, dorks, and geeks,” he noted.

It was a group with whom he and his girlfriend, Chrisi Gaskill, who accompanied Temple to California both times, instantly bonded.

“Jay was one of my most favorite contestants,” Gaskill said, adding that even though she and Temple spent only a few days with the others, she misses them.  “This time, it felt like we met soul mates,” she said about the group.

In an earlier interview, Temple noted that his TOC compatriots have a secret Facebook page on which to converse.

From her seat in the “Jeopardy!” audience during filming in September, Gaskill could see the producers’ television monitors and could see that all three men knew the answers and were ringing their buzzers.

“It was just that Tom or Jay rang their buzzers a hair faster,” she said. “It was all about ringing in the fastest.”

She also said all the games were close, with the winners winning “by the skin of their teeth.”

“We both felt so blessed to be there and to compete again,” she said about the experience of being a part of the show. “It was incredible.”

She noted that once a contestant is in the Tournament of Champions, he or she can never compete on “Jeopardy!” again.

But Gaskill says she and Temple will go back there someday, as she has been trying her luck with the online test to become a contestant.  

So far, she has not received the call that Temple received last year telling him he would be on the show.

“I’m going to be on ‘Jeopardy!’ someday,” she said. “So, I’ll take him.”


To read previous Island Free Press stories on Charles Temple, including his win in the Teachers Tournament and his own story of his experience on “Jeopardy!” go to:

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