ND native reflects on four-day winning streak on 'Jeopardy!'
BISMARCK—After winning $64,802 on "Jeopardy!" in December, Bismarck native Kyle Becker has yet to determine on what he'll spend his winnings from the television quiz show.
"I don't have the money, yet, so I don't quite know what I'll spend it on," Becker said. "I'm going to hold off on any big expenditures until I see how it's taxed."
Tentative plans are to pay off a portion of his student loans, save for retirement and travel domestically and internationally.
"I hope to do some domestic travel in 2018, then travel internationally in 2019 or 2020," Becker said, noting New York, Cambodia, Laos and Beijing, China, are potential destinations.
Becker, a Vanderbilt University research assistant, made his first appearance on the show Dec. 4, wagering just enough money in the Final Jeopardy! round to narrowly defeat his two opponents, Alice Pelletier and Lisa Kristina. His one-day cash winnings totaled $18,401.
At the time, Becker's family, including his mom and dad, had no clue how long the winning streak would continue. Local family and friends gathered at The Stadium Sports Bar & Lodge, Bismarck, each night to watch their favorite contestant compete.
Becker defeated a retired teacher and a financial software consultant on Dec. 5, bringing his two-day cash winnings total to $30,400.
"It was a whirlwind," he said. "The show is so fast paced. As I was watching the third show, I said to my friends, 'I don't remember playing these categories.' I knew I did well; I just didn't remember it."
The third show aired Dec. 6. Becker wagered $1 in Final Jeopardy! and was the only contestant to answer correctly. The final clue read: "This manual resulted from a military engineer's attendance at an unruly 1860s church meeting." The correct response was "What is Robert's Rules of Order?"
Going into the fourth show, Becker's winnings totaled $43,601. The Final Jeopardy! round was a nail-biter, as Katia Knoll, a director of global food safety, nearly defeated the three-day champion. Only $1,002 separated the first- and second-place winners.
Becker's winning streak ended Dec. 8, when he was unable to come up with the correct response to the Final Jeopardy! clue, which read: "On the beat since 1999, she plays the longest-running female character currently on TV in a primetime non-animated series."
Ben Raphel, a health care data analyst, won with his correct response, "Who is Mariska Hargitay?" Becker came in third place, adding an additional $1,000 to his four-day cash winnings total of $63,802.
"It was all just a great experience," he said.
Becker lives in Nashville, Tenn., but made a trip back home to Bismarck for Christmas.
During Christmas Mass, fellow churchgoers became star struck while exchanging the peace with Becker, who attended with his grandmother.
"They said, 'Peace be with you and, hey, weren't you that guy on Jeopardy!," he said, noting a few fans have recognized him in public.
While in Bismarck, Becker also made an appearance at The Stadium, where he watched an episode of "Jeopardy!" with his family and friends.
Becker said he felt satisfaction in crossing "compete on 'Jeopardy!'" off the top of his bucket list, after nearly a decade of applying to be on the show.
"There are so many other things I'd like to do ... scuba diving, traveling to different places. If I had enough money, I could throw it that way and make them happen," he said, "whereas, something like 'Jeopardy!,' I had to work for and keep trying."
Donna Jean Becker, of Bismarck, said she's proud of her son and the way he handled himself on the show.
"Just being selected to be on 'Jeopardy!' is a great accomplishment. We know it's something he's wanted to do for a long time, and we're glad he achieved it," she said.