Tom Philipose of Forest Hills made a national TV appearance last night on America’s favorite quiz show, “Jeopardy!”
The 18-year Forest Hills resident and writing professor at CUNY Guttman Community College is no stranger to TV quiz shows, as he’s also starred on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “Cash Cab” in the past.
Philipose has taken stabs at “Jeopardy!’s” extensive audition process of interviews and tests in the past, and was excited to be invited to the show this time around.
He said that his job as a college professor and knowing a ton of trivial facts throughout his life is what helped him during his “Jeopardy!” experience.
“I always remind students that you want to be intellectually curious, you want to know things, you don’t want to act like you got it all figured out, and that you’ve got nothing left to learn. We should keep our minds open to new things,” Philipose said.
“I’m daily in that practice of practicing what I preach, because it’s good to know what’s up and what’s going on in the world,” he continued. “So I think I’ve been prepared for this experience.”
Since “Jeopardy!” tapes multiple shows in one day, Philipose knew he would be up against reigning champion Ryan Long, who is one of four players from this season alone to make the show’s Hall of Fame list with the most consecutive games won.
Philipose gave Long a run for his money in the first round, buzzing in with multiple correct responses in a row and finding the Daily Double, where he scored an additional $1,000. He finished the first round $200 ahead of Long.
“It was a real whirlwind rewatching the episode. I was watching and thinking, ‘I don’t know this answer,’ and then I saw myself buzzing in and getting it right,” Philipose said.
“I remembered that I didn’t get any questions wrong except for Final Jeopardy, but I just did not remember buzzing in and knowing some of them yesterday. It was really weird.”
In the Double Jeopardy round, Long’s performance picked up along with the help of a Daily Double, and Philipose went into Final Jeopardy just $4,000 behind.
The question in the final category, “UNESCO World Heritage Sites,” stumped all three contestants.
Philipose shockingly wagered all of his earnings, leaving him with nothing.
“I did that because I was down by a few thousand dollars, and I didn’t want to have any regrets. I told myself ‘This guy [Long] knows a lot and I didn’t like the category at all, but let me go all out,’” he said.
“I think for me, it was the right move, because I know that it didn’t matter what I bet because if I got it wrong, he was going to win anyway. All of my family and friends told me that they were glad I went all in.”
Although Philipose did not leave “Jeopardy!” a winner in the traditional sense, he is victorious in other ways.
During the show’s interview portion, Philipose discussed the time where he signed up for the bone marrow registry, and eventually donated bone marrow to a child who was dying.
“I was a copycat. My brother joined the registry first. We were told there were not enough or a lot of people of color on the bone marrow registry,” he said on “Jeopardy!”
“A few years passed, and we both got matched to children that we did not know and we were able to donate and help them out. I would recommend anybody join the registry because it’s a really easy way to save a life.”
The show’s guest host, Mayim Bialik, described his good deed as “unbelievable,” and the moment earned him a round of applause from the studio audience.
Philipose said that the interview portion of the show is the part he was most excited about.
“Regardless of what happened, I was at least able to get the word out about a really easy way to save people’s lives. The champion, Ryan, actually tweeted out some stuff about the bone marrow registry and gave me a shoutout, and that’s getting a lot of attention in a nice way like I was hoping for,” Philipose said.
When he’s not educating college students or starring on quiz shows, Philipose enjoys hanging out at all the staples in the neighborhood such as Nick’s Pizza, Forest Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and Forest Hills Gardens.
“The diversity is what I love most about Queens. Here we have real people. We hear 50 different languages every time we walk on a sidewalk … I feel comfortable and at home in a place like that,” he said. “They call it the ‘World’s Borough’ for a reason, and it’s got everything I’m looking for.”