Will Casper batted .500 while playing the game of "Final Jeopardy!"
For that, he earned $10,000 and an incredible experience.
Casper, a 17-year-old high school senior from Basin City, Wash., was part of the famous game show's annual Teen Tournament. After advancing to the semifinals, Casper was edged out of the competition by Rachel Cooke in an episode that aired on Monday.
"It really was a lot of fun and something I'll remember for the rest of my life," said Casper, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Casper's ascent to the game-show stage began when he took an online test that led to an invitation to audition. He traveled to Los Angeles in November to compete against approximately 300 other hopefuls. After participating in a follow-up test and mock competition, Casper was chosen as one of the final 15 contestants.
Casper, who played football for Connell High School, is also a member of the school's "Knowledge Bowl" team. He has aptitude for reading and said that aside from essay-writing he enjoys most subjects at school.
Success at "Jeopardy!," however, requires more than just fact-recollection.
"I've watched it for years," he said. "It's not always about who knows the most. It's a lot of buzzer-timing. It's kind of tricky."
In Monday's episode, Casper fared well with the subject of history specifically, categories about the American Revolution and ancient Rome.
"I knew most of the ones in those categories," he said. "The ones I really didn't like are the ones about fashion and what not."
After leading for a significant portion of the game, Casper fell to second place going into "Final Jeopardy!" and was unable to give the correct "question" from a category about Shakespeare, despite the fact that he's very comfortable with that subject.
"I will admit that after I lost I was a little shell-shocked, but I got over that pretty quick," said Casper, who earned $10,000 by virtue of making the semifinals.
In his initial competition, Casper was in third place entering "Final Jeopardy!" He wagered all of his winnings, though, and correctly wrote down the final question. He didn't win the round, but scored high enough to earn a wild-card spot in the semifinals.
Casper said that despite being on national television, he was able to focus on his primary objective having fun.
"I really wasn't (nervous)," he said. "I was pretty calm."
As for his future, Casper doesn't need to reply in the form of a question. He's already got the answer.After spending a year studying engineering at BYU, Casper plans to serve a mission for the LDS Church.
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