Keller High history teacher David Clemmons couldn’t be more enthusiastic about his experience on “Jeopardy,” he told students, staff and families gathered at the Wednesday night watch party at Keller High School.
“It’s just been unbelievably amazing,” Clemmons said.
Clemmons was knocked out of the Tournament of Champions, which aired Nov. 8 but was taped in September. In May, he won $100,000 in the 2017 Teachers Tournament.
“It was an honor to get that far,” he said.
‘Going all in’
During Final Jeopardy in his latest game, Clemmons bet everything he had. He did it, he said, to send a message to his students.
“This was a runaway game, and I decided to bid it all because I wanted you to know that I’m all in,” he told the crowd.
While winning the Teachers Tournament often gets him recognized as what he calls a “pseudo celebrity” at the grocery store or doctor’s office, to the students who have been in his class over the years, Clemmons was a VIP long before “Jeopardy.”
Dozens of students, past and present, came to cheer on their teacher.
“I had him last year as a teacher, and he was super influential,” senior Gloria Lee said. “I want to support him like he supported me.”
All of his students were excited for him said junior Madison DeVoss. “He’s been talking about being on ‘Jeopardy’ all year,” DeVoss said.
Marley Kern, a 2013 Keller High grad, came to support her favorite teacher at the watch party.
“I’m a teacher now, and Mr. Clemmons has been a mentor for me since I was a junior here,” Kern said.
Kern said Clemmons helped her with her résumé and assisted her in finding her job teaching special education at a Denton elementary school.
As for the Tournament of Champions, the history teacher lost to 25-year-old software engineer Alan Lin, who was good on the buzzer, Clemmons said.
Contestants must wait until host Alex Trebek finishes asking the question or risk getting locked out. Although Clemmons knew many of the answers, he said hitting the buzzer at the right time is a skill and he just couldn’t beat Lin.
While his stint on the Tournament of Champions was short, the relationships he’s made through the show have been lasting, Clemmons said.
Becoming ‘fast friends’ with opponents
The Tournament of Champions atmosphere differed from what he experienced in the Teachers Tournament. Because they all have similar experiences, the educators “became fast friends,” Clemmons said. He’s had four of the teachers who were in the tournament visit his home in Fort Worth and has met seven for dinner in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Nan Cohen, a competitor in the finals of the Teachers Tournament, sat in the audience with Clemmons’ family at the Tournament of Champions.
The Tournament of Champions vibe was more focused and subdued. The stakes are bigger, too: first place wins $250,000, second place $100,000 and third place $50,000.
Clemmons said he wished Lin good luck after the show and told him to “go win the whole thing.”
The tournament runs through Nov. 17 on KTXA/Channel 21.
Clemmons didn’t leave empty-handed. All players got $5,000 for participating, plus airfare, hotel and meal expenses.
He used his money to bring wife Cindy and daughters Susanna and Carly to Los Angeles for the taping and for a family trip to Disneyland.
Clemmons said he plans to meet up with friends from “Jeopardy” to participate in Geek Bowl 2018, the culmination of nationwide pub trivia contests, set for February in Boston.