Sophomore Mitch Macek Competes in Jeopardy!

Sophomore Mitchell Macek took to the Jeopardy! stage for the college competition.

Courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc./Villanova University

Sophomore Mitchell Macek took to the Jeopardy! stage for the college competition.

Emma Cahill, Staff Writer

Villanova Students, for $200.

Answer: This Villanova Student was a Jeopardy! contestant on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

Question: Who is, Mitch Macek?

Mitchell Macek, a sophomore double majoring in Math and Education, was on the big screen last week for the Jeopardy! National College Championship. The show features Macek as one of the 36 college undergraduate students in the country.

Before competing as one of the official contestants on Jeopardy!, Macek had to undergo a comprehensive set of steps to determine his eligibility. Since beginning the application process in 2020, Macek has had to take two tests and do a Zoom audition.
“First came a timed 50 question test on randomly selected questions from throughout the show’s history,” Macek said. “After completing this first test, I waited until January 2021 for a response, as well as the opportunity to take the second stage test. After this second –and arguably more difficult– test, I heard back the next day to return for an audition over Zoom. The audition was a lot of fun, but after the fact I did not get a response from a producer until far later.”
The show’s producers called Macek in October 2021 and confirmed that he was selected to be in the tournament. Macek had overcome the first few hurdles of the process and was officially set to be a contestant on the show.

“By that point everything came together,” Maceks said. “I was to fly out to Los Angeles before Thanksgiving.”

Before he was ready to participate in the tournament, Macek spent a considerable amount of time studying for the show. Macek had many different methods in order to make sure he was adequately prepared for the show.

“In the month between receiving the call to be on the show and flying out to Los Angeles, I doubled down on preparing,” Macek said. “I watched the show multiple times a day, read multiple trivia type books, studied the J! Archive (a collection of every clue from the show laid out on a website) and spent plenty of time just researching things for fun. To try and replicate the feeling of the game and the buzzer, I tried using a pen to ‘buzz-in’ as I watched.”

As Macek studied more and more, he became more and more equipped to compete in the tournament. After a whole month of trivia books, episode viewings and research, Macek was ready to make his debut on Jeopardy! National College Championship. So, he flew out to Los Angeles and began filming back in November 2021.

“The process of being on the show and filming was exhilarating and exhausting, I would say,” Macek said. “The set for the show was immaculately kept, though way smaller than I would’ve expected. Filming definitely took a while but examining all the effort that goes into making a single 25-minute episode was amazing. The producers and J! staff were efficient and extremely fastidious as well as wonderfully kind and hospitable.”

In the heat of the game, Macek expressed that he initially had some nerves before filming on set. However, he was able to overcome these nerves through his passion for the game. By putting all his energy into the game, Macek was able to get in the zone for the show.

“Participating in the game was another thing. I was extremely nervous up until actually making it on the stage,” Macek said. “Once I made it up there, though, I found it impossible not to get engrossed in the entire thing. It was a lot more difficult than I thought to get a handle on the buzzer and deal with the tension of the other competitors, but it was essentially pure adrenaline at that point.”
The episode of Jeopardy! National College Championship debuted on Feb. 9. It was hosted by Mayim Bialik, and Macek competed against two other college undergraduate students: Joey Kornman, a junior at Brandeis University, and Yejun Kim, a senior at Northwestern University.

In the episode, Macek answered the questions for Round 1, featuring categories such as “The Elements” and “Approximate Weights & Measures.” Following Round 1, Macek was in second place, a mere $1,000 away from Kornman, who stood in first place. In the second round, Macek played featured categories, such as “River City” and “Art Appreciation,” and was in second place. In the end, it all came down to the final Jeopardy! in which Kornman ultimately took first place.
Following the journey to the competition, Macek would like to acknowledge all those who helped him get to this point.

“I’d like to thank my family, my friends, my professors, Ryan Duff, Tyler Brown, VUTC, Villanova Gaming Society and the Villanova Billiards Club for their support up until now,” Macek said.
Macek played a great game. He displayed the knowledge he gained through his performance. The effort Macek put into preparing and participating in the show is clear in the way he answered the various questions thrown at him.