SALT LAKE CITY — On Friday night’s “Jeopardy!,” it all came down to one question for Steve Mond, a ninth-and 10th-grade math teacher at RSL Academy in Herriman, Utah. Fortunately for Mond, it was a question only he answered correctly, leading him to clinch a semifinalist spot in the “Jeopardy!” Teachers Tournament.
The two-week tournament began Monday, May 7, and the nine semifinalists were revealed after Mond’s game Friday. Mond was quick on the buzzer at the start of the game, speeding through a category about verbs beginning with the letter “V.” He also landed on — and correctly answered — the round’s Daily Double question early on.
The question: “She won gold in track and field at the 1932 Summer Olympics and was the leading money winner in women’s golf (from) 1948-1951.”
Mond gave the answer in full — “Who is Babe Didrikson Zaharias?” — taking an early lead with $1,800. But the math teacher got quieter after this rapid-fire start, allowing contestant Jake Allen, a teacher from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, to catch up and take the lead at the end of the first half.
Going into the Double Jeopardy round, Allen had $6,600, Mond was in second place with $5,000 and Ranjani Sheshadri of Friendswood, Texas — who struggled early in the game and was often in the red — finished in third with $2,800.
But Sheshadri got a moment of redemption in the second half, where the Double Jeopardy round gave her a chance to display her Shakespeare knowledge. The contestant answered every question right in the category titled “Shakespeare’s People” — including a Daily Double question that asked for the person that “calls himself ‘his moorship’s ancient.’” Sheshadri correctly responded with “Who is Iago” and took second place with $6,000.
Sheshadri’s lead continued to grow as she landed on the second Daily Double question, which referenced the constellation known as “the chained lady.” Responding correctly with “Andromeda,” Sheshadri widened the lead with $13,600, leaving Allen in second with $9,400 and Mond in third with $7,400.
Although all three contestants seemed to be avoiding the category referencing hit songs from the 1990s — the category was the last one left on the board in the game’s final minutes — the teachers proved they weren’t exactly clueless in this area, answering questions about Nirvana, R.E.M and Garth Brooks.
Entering the Final Jeopardy round, Allen was in first with $18,200, Sheshadri in second with $12,000 and Mond in last place with $10,600. The Final Jeopardy category? U.S. political history — which, based on the outcome, served to Mond’s advantage.
The question read: “President Madison is credited with the 1st of these 2-word actions; he didn’t sign an 1812 bill after congress had adjourned.”
It was a question for which only Mond had the correct answer: pocket veto. Mond wrote the answer down quickly compared to the other contestants, and with his wager of $6,000, ended the game in first with $16,600 and became the fifth automatic semifinalist in the teacher’s tournament.Comment on this story
At the conclusion of Friday night’s game, host Alex Trebek announced the four wild card semifinalists that would be joining Mond and the other semifinalists. These four were determined based on highest score, and Trebek announced that Allen, who finished the game with $16,200 — only $400 behind Mond — would be joining the semifinalist round.
Mond’s semifinalist game airs Monday, 6:30 p.m. MT on KJZZ Salt Lake City. He will be up against Scott Montanaro of Portland, Oregon, and Erika Eason of Derwood, Maryland.