News

PSU grad student is ‘Jeopardy!’ champion

Penn State graduate student Bill Cossen poses with “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek at a taping of the show in June. Cossen will compete as the returning champion Wednesday on the trivia show, which airs locally at 7 p.m. Tuesday on WATM (Comcast Channel 5).
Penn State graduate student Bill Cossen poses with “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek at a taping of the show in June. Cossen will compete as the returning champion Wednesday on the trivia show, which airs locally at 7 p.m. Tuesday on WATM (Comcast Channel 5). Photo provided

Studying for “Jeopardy!” was fun.

The competition was a blur.

But keeping the TV game show results a secret? Now, that was tough.

Bill Cossen, a Penn State graduate student, said not telling anyone how he had done on “Jeopardy!” was more difficult than competing on the show.

Now, he can tell people he won $15,000 and will return as champion Wednesday.

Cossen’s show was taped June 11, meaning he has spent the past 97 days being bombarded with questions easier than those he faced on the question-and-answer quiz show.

“Oh, it’s been pretty horrible,” Cossen said after the episode aired Tuesday night. “I’ve been bursting inside to tell people and now I finally can.”

He cannot reveal how he will do on Wednesday’s episode.

“No, that’s a new secret,” Cossen said.

Cossen said he enjoyed preparing for “Jeopardy!” more than anything.

“I’m embarrassed to say I treated it like a full-time job,” he said. “I was pulling up to 16-hour days for a month with six to eight of those hours studying in books, playing previous games, learning strategies for how to hold the buzzer properly.”

Robin Riglin, a Penn State research administrator, knows what he’s talking about. She competed on “Jeopardy!” in 1998 and won $4,800.

She said she could have won a second game, but didn’t have the timing down for the buzzer.

“I lost the second game, and a lot of it had to do with the buzzing rhythm,” Riglin said. “There was one category where I knew all of the answers, but I just didn’t buzz in first. So, I walked away with some cash and a ton of fun.”

Cossen said Tuesday he does not know what he’ll do with his winnings.

“I have no idea yet, because ‘Jeopardy!’ doesn’t send the money to you for 120 days,” Cossen said. “I guess I have a lot of time to plan.”

  Comments