College senior Mehek Boparai made her "Jeopardy! National College Championship" debut last Wednesday. While she did not advance to the semi-finals, she came in second place at the end of the night, winning a prize of $10,000.
Boparai competed against two other college students: Emmey Harris, a sophomore from the University of Minnesota, and Toussaint Pegues, a senior from the California Institute of Technology. Harris came out on top with a score of $21,000, advancing her to the semi-finals with the chance to win a grand prize of $250,000. Boparai ended the night in second place with a score of $1,199.
Boparai said she studied intensely prior to her game, but most of the categories on that night’s show were topics she did not focus on. However, she said that this did not discourage her and was typical of a "Jeopardy!" game.
As an English major, Boparai felt confident in the literature categories before competing, but she said still had difficulty answering categories such as “Literary Name Droppers.” She explained that she felt her performance began to unravel in the second round once she failed to answer the “Daily Double” about Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare of the 1950s.
“[I was mad] I didn’t get McCarthyism because I just studied the Cold War era a lot in my life,” Boparai explained. Boparai said her high school history teacher even reached out to say that he felt responsible for not teaching her enough about McCarthyism.
After the first round, "Jeopardy!" allows contestants to tell a personal anecdote about themselves. Boparai decided to speak about her time as culture editor for 34th Street.
“34th Street is the arts and culture publication on Penn’s campus. I’m the managing culture editor, so I get to oversee the arts section, the music section, the social justice section, and film and TV," Boparai said during the filming of "Jeopardy!" in November 2021. "My term is almost over, but it’s been a wonderful time, and I’m glad to be done."
“I’m really proud of my tenure at Street and the progress we’ve made to be more inclusive and analytical in our coverage,” Boparai wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
While Boparai did not make it to the semi-finals or finals, she said she is still grateful to have had the opportunity to compete.
“Literally no one cared about the outcome. Everyone just cared about seeing someone they knew on TV,” Boparai said.
In the days after her "Jeopardy!" debut, Boparai reflected on the support she received from the Penn community.
“I want to thank the Penn community for the outpouring of love and support, it makes the school feel much more intimate and connected and I was proud to be a part of it,” Boparai told the DP.