PHOENIX, Arizona, June 3. U.S. Masters Swimming national champion Kirk Nelson ended his run as champion on the popular quiz show “Jeopardy!” today, earning more than $19,000 in his two days on the show.
After winning $18,200 on Friday's show, Nelson, an engineer at Boeing, was back today competing against a librarian and a customer service representative.
Nelson, the winner of the 1650 freestyle in the 40-44 age group at last month's U.S. Masters Swimming nationals, started off well, finding the first-round Daily Double quickly and wagering $1,000. He answered correctly on what would be one of the easiest clues for the Seattle native, in which he had to name Washington state's official nickname. (It's the Evergreen State.) Nelson nearly swept the category “Official State Stuff” in first round to gain a big lead.
After a brief dry spell in which fellow contestant J Tarter-Fox built up a $3,200 lead, Nelson hit the first Daily Double in the second round in the category of “Museums.” By answering “What is Tate?” in response to a clue about the London museum, Nelson got back into contention with his $2,500 wager.
An incorrect response about the Peacekeeper missile was the beginning of the end of Nelson's championship run. Tarter-Fox answered the second Daily Double correctly about the official languages of Indonesia, gaining a $10,100 lead. With the remaining clues not giving Nelson the opportunity to take the lead, and Nelson failing to respond correctly to a $1,000 clue about castaways, Tarter-Fox had done in today's game what Nelson did in Friday's contest: He earned more than twice the amount of money than his closest competitor going into Final Jeopardy.
Nelson appeared to have difficulty in writing a response to this Final Jeopardy clue: “This 17th century king named his throne room the Apollo Chamber.” By writing “Who is Henry VIII” instead of “Who is Louis 14th,” Nelson finished in third place, earning $1,000 today. He left the Jeopardy! studios with winnings totaling $19,200 — much more than a swimmer could win in two days of competition at an Arena Grand Prix meet or the FINA World Cup.