Education

This Wake County teacher dominated ‘Jeopardy!’ How will he do Thursday?

Lee Quinn, a teacher at Broughton High School in Raleigh, with “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek.
Lee Quinn, a teacher at Broughton High School in Raleigh, with “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek. Courtesy of Lee Quinn

Lee Quinn’s appearance on “Jeopardy!” this week has brought people out of the woodwork.

No, they aren’t asking for cash after the Broughton High School teacher won $22,400 on the game show Wednesday. They just want to catch up, and Quinn said that’s been his favorite part of what he calls a “surreal” experience.

Quinn has heard from former students, the man who mentored him when he was a student teacher at Orange High School in Hillsborough and – in the most unusual turn – a former colleague and trivia team partner whose daughter was competing on “Jeopardy!” at the same time.

“It’s really great to be able to reconnect with people I haven’t heard from,” especially students, Quinn said. Hearing about “the things they’re doing, the successes they’re having and the places where they’re doing well and impacting their communities is really gratifying.

If you missed Quinn on Wednesday, he will appear on the show again at 7 p.m. Thursday on ABC11. The shows are pre-taped, and Quinn can’t say how far he advanced or how much money he won.

On Wednesday, Quinn swept categories on banner years and presidential burial sites, and he correctly answered the final “Jeopardy!” question: “A 1954 Act amended a 1938 one by striking out this word and replacing it with ‘Veterans.’ ” (Correct answer: What is Armistice?)

Quinn has spent his entire education career at Raleigh’s Broughton High, where he co-coordinates the International Baccalaureate magnet program and teaches Theory of Knowledge, a class where he says students are encouraged to “question their own knowledge: How do I know what I know? How do I ask better questions?”

Quinn’s journey to “Jeopardy!” has lasted more than two years. He took an online test – open to anyone 18 and older – and was selected to take an in-person test in Atlanta in June 2015. He had to take another written test, sit for an interview and play the game with two other people.

“They’re scoring you, but they’re not scoring how well you can answer questions,” Quinn said. “They’re scoring: Are you comfortable on camera? Do you freak out in front of people?”

Quinn didn’t freak out. But he didn’t hear back from the show until last September, when he got a random phone call.

 ‘Uh, Culver City, California? I’m not sure who this is, but I’ll answer it,’ ” Quinn remembers thinking.

He said he enjoyed taping the shows and getting to know host Alex Trebek.

“When Alex is coming up to chat during the credits (on Wednesday’s show), I have no idea what we were talking about,” he said.

Pressley Baird: 919-829-8935, @pressleybaird

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